Film shows life and bloody death of Iran protester

Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:21pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Youthful Neda Agha-Soltan became a symbol of the violence of the 2009 Iran protests when shocking footage of her dying moments reached millions on the Internet after the contested presidential election last year.

A new documentary, "For Neda," delves into the life and death of Neda showing first-time interviews with her family recorded inside Tehran. It airs this week on U.S. television channel HBO, one year after her death. The filmmakers hope it will play in France, Britain and other nations in the weeks and months to come.

"Her death, captured in that very graphic way, had enormous effect on people. She became, and quite rightly, the symbol of this movement," said the film's British director Antony Thomas. "She wasn't somebody who wanted political power or anything like that. She just wanted the freedom to be."

Neda, a 26 year-old music student, was shot on June 20 last year as protesters disputed the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and clashed with government forces in Tehran.

A viral video of her death made its way to the Internet and reached millions of people who saw her eyes wide and surprised as blood poured from her mouth. It stirred protesters inside and outside of Iran, who claim she was an innocent victim.

Iranian authorities have said Neda was not shot by the type of bullet used by Iranian security forces, suggesting the incident was staged to blacken the image of the clerical establishment and stir political opposition.

But the movie debunks those claims and aims to portray Neda as a courageous young protester through interviews with her family and bystanders near Neda when she was shot.

"For Neda" also disputes other claims from Iranian authorities, including the Iranian ambassador to Mexico who told CNN Neda was likely shot by militant groups or possibly the CIA.   Continued...