“I Am Neda”

Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling, United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror. His new book is High Noon For America. He is the host of Frontpage’s television show, The Glazov Gang, and he can be reached at jamieglazov11@gmail.com. Visit his site at JamieGlazov.com.


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Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Nicole Kian Sadighi, an actress, writer and now first time Director of the award winning movie, “I Am Neda.” The daughter of famous Iranian journalists, she was born in Tehran, Iran but has lived in London, England since the age of two. She is a graduate of Brookland Performing Arts School and holds a degree in Fine Arts.

Ms. Sadighi will be screening “I Am Neda” at the “Neda For A Free Iran” Event, on Sunday, July 1, 2012, at United University Church Center of the University of Southern California, 817 West 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA, 90089.

3pm & 6pm followed by a Q&A for Ms. Kian Sadighi.

For more information, visit IAmNeda.com.

FP: Nicole Sadighi, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.

Let’s begin with why you decided to make a film about Neda.

Kian Sadighi: Thank you Jamie.

For me, Neda was the representation of a courageous Iranian woman.  Since the inception of the current regime in Iran, Islamic laws have enforced limitations on the lives of the Iranian people, prohibiting their fundamental human rights — whether they are the religious minorities, the labor force, the students or women.  Sadly, women have been the most exploited and targeted of the penal codes.

At the same time, it’s also been the Iranian women who have been at the forefront of the ongoing demonstrations — as there is a massive women’s movement in Iran. When the world watched with bated breath as the streets of Tehran erupted in 2009, those of us Iranians living outside of Iran were glued to our television and computer screens, multi-tasking every news that came out through the social media and leading news outlets. And of course, we saw this young woman Neda, one minute innocently standing there, and then the next she was gone right before our eyes.

We usually see casualties in the aftermath of the war and turmoil but never during, never as close up as this. It was so shocking. There are no words to describe it. You go through an array of emotions. I was angered when I first saw it. She didn’t deserve it. I wanted to know more about this girl called Neda. What inspired her, what were her beliefs, her likes, dislikes? What was she like in private amongst her loved ones, what was her driving force? Who was she?

So I started to research her and put pen to paper and wrote her story through my eyes. I say through my eyes, but this film is really through her eyes. This film, as I feel, is Neda’s calling card. She is my inspiration.

It’s difficult not to get involved in someone’s story whilst researching it. She saw the world with such hope and romance and beauty despite the depressing restraints of the country she lives in. Wow, what a woman! It doesn’t matter who you are, Iranian or otherwise, Neda’s story translates all language barriers. It’s a human story. And that is exactly what I have hoped to have achieved with “I Am Neda.”

FP: You have received a fantastic reception at various festivals, specifically at the Cannes and Houston film festival where you were awarded the top prize. How do you feel about this great success?

Kian Sadighi: I cannot begin to express my excitement and pride for this film. Since we locked the final cut last autumn, it has been awarded the Platinum Remi Special Jury Award at Worldfest Houston International Film Festival and was the Honorable Mention Winner at the Los Angeles Movie Awards, and so far it has been showcased at eleven film festivals, most recently as a finalist at Cannes American Pavilion.

Receiving this tremendous news is a great sense of achievement for me as a first time director. But what all this really means is that these festivals believe in the message of the movie, and appreciate it as an artistic form of telling a story. They are moved by Neda’s story as I have been. At the same time, amongst the celebrations, it is also a time to sit back and reflect on why I began walking the path to make this movie in the first place. A moment in history, that was engulfed by tragedy, an inspiring legacy that Neda left behind. Like the nameless man standing in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square, or the little naked girl running away from the napalms during Vietnam, Neda is an iconic image forever engraved in our minds. Whether they are aware of it or not, these great festivals are giving a voice to the voiceless, for which I will be internally grateful because they believe in this movie as I do. They are not only giving this movie a platform but also something much greater than all of us. This is huge. It gives me a sense of warmth and hope.

FP: Aside from the awards, what do you hope that your film will achieve? And what is the film’s one single message that you would like to get through to people?

Kian Sadighi: The world only knows of Neda in her tragic death. We will never forget that beautiful face. Those glaring eyes. I wanted to know her in life and I wanted to share what I had discovered with everyone. Neda was no different from any other young woman. There are many preconceived ideas, particularly in the west, of Iranians in Iran. They are no different from the rest of us. Neda had the same dreams and aspirations as anyone. There’s nothing unusual about the Iranian people living in Iran that is any different from the rest of the world, except for the tragic circumstances they live in.

I hope that an audience member can see that no matter what language we speak, Neda could be any one of us, your sister or brother, your girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband, your children, your best friend or you. I wanted to bring a human factor to this tragic image that we saw of her. In addition, I wanted to show the innate difference between the people of Iran and the Iranian regime. The two should not be confused. Neda represented that difference. The tragedy is that the government has made enemies of its own people.

A film like “I Am Neda” will speak to everybody who sees it in different ways. A million people will see a movie like “I Am Neda” and they will have many different opinions and reactions. I think that the subject matter of tyranny and torment will never be exhausted –such as WWII films and the horrific atrocities of the Nazis.  Likewise, the many horrific events during the last 30 years in Iran like the 2009 Green Movement and the massacre that we witnessed. The personal reaction that people had to those events, no matter where you were watching them from, can’t be 100% duplicated, but it can be echoed in a movie like “I Am Neda.” That can be the power of film regardless of the subject matter. More often than not it can translate audiences’ feelings better than they are able to express by themselves.

With that said, I also realized that I was not only documenting history but also retelling it, which is a huge responsibility and I wanted to do it with the honor and respect it deserved. In the process, I also made a vow to uphold Neda’s legacy and memory. Neda has become a symbol of all the Nedas of the world. We mustn’t forget any of them. In this amazing technological age of Twitter and Facebook, we cannot hide from the truth anymore. There is a reason that these innocent people across the other side of the world are filming what’s really happening on the ground with their camera phones. They want us to take notice and listen – and we are listening.

FP: You never had the opportunity to meet Neda, how difficult did this make it and what kind of research did you do?

Kian Sadighi: Well, this was one of the challenges of course.  In deciding to make the movie, the first step was to research her story and research it well. If I wasn’t sure about something in her life or could not back it up, then it just had no place in the movie. After all, this was a real person, not a fictional character. I wanted to honor and respect the process of making this film and shining a light on her legacy. I spent the best of a year researching who she was. I read the articles, watched documentaries, and the first hand interviews with her family which came to be such valuable information for me. I went through many drafts until I was satisfied. It took the best part of the year. It was not only important to convey the atmosphere in Iran at the time but also to keep her story as authentic as I could.

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  • SoCalMike

    The State Department fiddled and twirled during the uprising in Iran while Obama figuratively bowed again by referring to “President” Amahdinijad and worked elsewhere to deliver a modern military to the Muslim Brotherhood.
    Our “Best and Brightest” didn’t even bother inserting short wave radios or broadcasts into Iran.
    The academic bimbos at the State Department insist on diplomatically French kissing and kitty licking the people they should be working to contain marginalize or isolate and oppose. At the same time they marginalize isolate and oppose allies and potential allies like the demonstrators in Iran at the time.
    Team Obama has no experience and bad instincts when it comes to foreign policy.
    The bigger problem is the collection of malignant career bureaucrats infesting our State Department. They don’t feel quite right if they aren’t bribing governments like N Korea and Pakistan in exchange for lies. Think of Quisling on steroids.
    Admins come and go but malignant tumors stay until they are removed or eradicated.

  • PAthena

    Why hasn't the government of Iran changed the name back to "Persia," the name for at least 3000 years. The then- Shah of Persia, in 1937, changed the name to "Iran" to show support for Adolf Hitler, who pushed the "Aryan" race. (The Aryas were the largest group in Persia.) (The present regime shows the continuation of Hitler's policies, both with its domestic policies of repression and its attitude to Jews and Israel.)

    • AKabir

      Actually Persia is the name the country was known to the rest of the world. The name Iran (along with its other variants such as Eran) was used continously for around 3000 years even before the Islamic conquest. A good comparison would be like Germany, which is called by its inhabitants as Deutschland, while the rest of the world call it by variants of the former.

      • Daniel

        Actually, The word Iran or "Eran" does not refer to the country itself, but to the people. So it would be incorrect for someone like you to claim that the same name has been used for the country since 3000 years ago, when you weren't even around at that time to verify it. Furthermore there are no written records that refer to the country as "Iran" either.
        And another thing, Reza Shah was known to be an uneducated person, so how would someone like him possess that knowledge?

  • Steve Chavez

    The world has been dealing with Jimmy Carter's Iran for three decades. Their current threats to the whole Middle East could lead to a World War and if they acquire a nuke and use it, it will be a World War fought with nukes. Imagine if Obama had supported the Green Movement as vigorously as he did the Arab Spring, then the world would be a different and more peaceful place.

    Now the world will be dealing with BARACK OBAMA'S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD FOR CENTURIES because they will never lose their power and will only spread it. Look for a United Front against the West and especially Israel. Their use of oil blackmail will bring the West to its knees especially now that Obama has declared his War on Oil, imposed our Gulf moratorium, and his pandering to Putin and Russia, who will aid in the takeover of the Middle East, appeasement to Iran and Syria, and all with the goal of taking out Israel.

    The only way to get the world back on track, especially U.S. dominance instead of Russian and Chinese, is to vote out Obama and every Democrat in Congress. From there we can take out all the Progressives/Liberals/Socialists out of every Government department!

  • Steve Chavez

    he world has been dealing with Jimmy Carter's Iran for three decades. Their current threats to the whole Middle East could lead to a World War and if they acquire a nuke and use it, it will be a World War fought with nukes. Imagine if Obama had supported the Green Movement as vigorously as he did the Arab Spring, then the world would be a different and more peaceful place.

    Now the world will be dealing with BARACK OBAMA'S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD FOR CENTURIES because they will never lose their power and will only spread it. Look for a United Front against the West and especially Israel. Their use of oil blackmail will bring the West to its knees especially now that Obama has declared his War on Oil, imposed our Gulf moratorium, and his pandering to Putin and Russia, who will aid in the takeover of the Middle East, appeasement to Iran and Syria, and all with the goal of taking out Israel.

    The only way to get the world back on track, especially U.S. dominance instead of Russian and Chinese, is to vote out Obama and every Democrat in Congress. From there we can take out all the Progressives/Liberals/Socialists out of every Government department!

  • Chezwick

    I remember seeing an old photo of Neda shortly after her murder. She was with her boyfriend on a trip to Turkey and she appeared to have a chain with a cross around her neck. Can anyone tell me if she was a convert to Christianity?

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Thank Jimmy Carter for the changes in Iran, the Shah was and ally of America, we had a military
    presence in Tehran and good relations with the Iranian military. Carter helped undermine
    Shah Pahlavi and his government which was wimpy compared to the leadersip of all surrouding
    nations. The death toll the Mullahs racked up was way over a million souls, all of the Shah's
    suporters were executed, warehouses had racks of corpse stacked and racked like cordwood.
    Responsibility goes directly to Carter and his miserable Democratic administration and every
    death in the Iranian holocaust added to the Democrats bloody history of betrayal in the World.
    Iran was modernizing and a good example of social progress that was maligned by Islamist
    propaganda and ruinous Democratic betrayal that contiues today…………….William

    • Daniel

      William, the actions of former Democrat US president jimmy Carter are not surprising in the least. It's a proven fact that the Left and Radical/Orthodox Islam are different sides of the same coin.
      Just to give you an example of the similarities between each ideology, consider the fact that both the Left and Islam have a tendency towards totalitarianism, and they both believe that it will be for the benefit of mankind to be controlled like cattle.
      So before you can deal with Radical/Orthodox Islam in the ME and hope for any genuine democracy in that region, you must deal with the self-righteous and hypocritical Left-wing movement and prevent it from causing any more death and destruction in the name of humanitarianism.

      • WilliamJamesWard

        Isn't it so strange that these same inhuman abominations would call on humanitarianism
        as cover for their actions. Daniel in the past I have stated that Islam and the Left are bound
        together as Islam worships the Moon God and the Left are Lunatics. It may be that no matter
        how it is done in ridding life of both of these obsenities all work against evil lowers their profile……………William

  • Tanstaafl jw

    They will rise up.

  • Steve Chavez

    Imagine if Obama had supported Neda and the Green Movement as vigorously as he did the Arab Spring and how the world would be today without the Mullahs, their nukes, their funding and support of Syria and the terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah.

    Instead, the world is still dealing with Jimmy Carter's Iran for decades now and will be dealing with Barack Obama's Arab Spring/Muslim Brotherhood for centuries!

    • Guest

      My thoughts exactly! There were so many reasons to support the Green Movement, and so may reasons to oppose the Arab Spring.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

    Yes, as an Iranian muslim I guess you would.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

    Really? Why don't they drive the nuclear scientists to work and we'll see about that.