If you read and watch entertainment news, you know that an Iranian filmmaker, Asghar Farhadiis, is racking up the Hollywood awards for A Separation even in a climate of US-imposed sanctions. And if you're paying attention to most media coverage, you're well aware of the nuclear issue. But other than that, do we have a lens into the lives and stories of Iranians? Does this kind of cultural lens matter as we settle into our perspectives about Iran? Yes. Without showing the lives, struggles and culture of everyday people living and working in Iran, we in the West have a potentially skewed image of Iranians.
In 2006, Link TV developed a documentary TV series, Bridge to Iran, to provide a window into the lives and struggles of everyday Iranians -- to respond to the cultural and political tensions that have developed between Iran and the US since the Iranian Revolution. Over the years, Bridge to Iran has covered a wide range of social and political issues in modern Iran, including the experiences of young girls facing womanhood and uncertain futures, religious pilgrims who risk their lives to visit a holy site in war-torn Iraq, rural life and political awareness, an exploration of Tehran as an urban metropolis, and Iranian women's participation in the election process.
The new season premieres on February 14. In each of the four episodes of Bridge to Iran, in-depth discussions between host Parisa Soultani and top Iranian filmmakers provide a unique lens into some of the challenges and realities facing Iranians during a time of increased instability -- including censorship, sanctions and safety concerns.
Here are the details about the films and when to catch the episodes, on Link TV or online:
Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution, directed by Nader Takmil Homayoun, explores the history and politics of Iran through its rich filmmaking tradition; premieres on February 14 at 7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT and February 16 at 10:00pm PT. Watch online starting February 14.
The Queen and I, directed by Nahid Sarvestani, documents the filmmaker's complex relationship with the exiled former queen of Iran; premieres on February 21 at 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT and February 23 at 10:00pm PT. Watch online now!
We Are Half of Iran's Population, directed by Rakhshan Bani Etemad, looks at women's participation in the controversial 2009 elections; premieres on February 28 at 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT and March 1 at 10:00pm PT. Watch online now!
Siah Bazi (The Joy Makers), directed by Maryam Khakipour, traces the demise of a popular form of irreverent street theater; premieres on March 6 at 7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT and March 8 at 10:00pm PT. Watch online starting March 6.
Bridge to Iran offers a diverse perspective on a country on the receiving end of a torrent of media attention -- but with a lens that's inclusive of the people and the art found within Iranian borders. We hope you'll tune in and tell others.
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Caty Borum Chattoo is a producer and communication strategist with Link TV, assistant professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, DC, and media fellow with the AU Center for Social Media.
(Mosaic Video Alert: March 16, 2011) Marches were held across Palestinian cities and in several Arab capitals to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba, or Day of Catastrophe. Many people were killed and hundreds injured during demonstrations that called for the restoration of Palestinian land and rights. Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain, and Jordan are among the countries that witnessed Nakba marches in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Al-Alam reports.
(Al Jazeera English: 1534 PT, May 15, 2011) Several people have been killed and scores of others wounded in the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, Ras Maroun in Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as Palestinians mark the "Nakba," or day of "catastrophe."
The "Nakba" is how Palestinians refer to the 1948 founding of the state of Israel, when an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled following Israel's declaration of statehood. Al Jazeera's Nisreen El Shamyleh reports.
Egypt Police Fire Tear Gas at Nakba Protest
(Al Jazeera English: 1707 PT, May 15, 2011) Egyptian police have fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo, after a group of demonstrators reportedly attempted to storm the building. Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith reports.
(Press TV: 0509 PT, May 16, 2011) Analysis of the Nakba protests from Iran's Press TV.