The galvanizing images from the Iranian protests following the disputed 2009 election may now seem like distant memories, but Ali Samadi Ahadi’s documentary-fiction hybrid provides a stark and moving reminder of that brief surge of populist indignation. Trying to approximate the noise and fury of those days, The Green Wave contains a clashing mix of styles: grainy footage of the uprising, talking-head interviews, fictional cartoon interludes about two rebellious students, and the occasional overlaid text from Twitter and blog posts, reflecting how social media fueled the protests. Only the animation seems forced, with its comic-book style and melodramatic tone registering as manipulative next to the brute reality of the documentary images.
Thankfully, the film includes plenty of frank talk from human-rights activists, such as journalist Mitra Khalatbari, who is still coming to terms with the Green Wave’s failure to effect structural changes in the country. Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei has since reestablished the power of his repressive regime, yet Khalatbari believes there has been a shift in homes and on the street as people have learned to talk to each other again. It’s a point that The Green Wave backs up; by airing an impassioned chorus of voices ranging from lawyers to religious clerics, the film argues that the 2009 protests were simply preparing the way for a larger populist movement that has yet to crest.
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