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:
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.
(Al Jazeera English: 1532 PT, May 16, 2011) There is a serious and growing rift in Iran between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader. Ahmadinejad has reportedly asked the Khamenei if he can resign. Al Jazeera's Dorsa Jabbari reports from Tehran.
(Al Jazeera English: 1356 PT, May 4, 2011) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ended an apparent boycott of his official duties by chairing his second cabinet meeting this week. While a rift with the Intelligence Minister seems to have ended, another confrontation appears to be developing.
The president's actions are now the cause of much debate. While Ahmadinejad has made no comments about his 10 day absence from his job, it has given his critics reason to question his ability to govern. Al Jazeera's Dorsa Jabbari reports from the Iranian capital of Tehran.
(Euronews: 1330 PST, February 16, 2011) Two Iranian warships are headed towards the Suez Canal en route to Syria with Israel's foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman hinting the Jewish state may respond. Lieberman said in a speech: "Israel cannot forever ignore these provocations."
Israel has long accused Iran and Syria of providing weapons to Islamist groups seeking its elimination. Iran's state news agency said the two ships had been dispatched on a year-long traning mission in the Mediterranean Sea.
(Associated Press: 0840 PST, February 16, 2011) Iranian authorities stepped up their campaign Wednesday to repress the protest movement in the country, two days after tens of thousands marched in the capital. But reform leaders remained defiant in postings on the internet.
(Al Jazeera English Headlines: 1230 PST, February 15, 2011) Following Monday's protests, in which at least two protesters died, the Iranian government is moving to hold the two opposition leaders who called for the demonstration to be held accountable.
(Euronews: 0600 PST, February 15, 2011) There have been angry scenes in the Iranian Parliament as members took to the floor to condemn anti-government protests at the weekend. State television showed parliamentarians calling for the opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mossavi and Mahdi Karroubi to face trial. Both have been under house arrest for a week after asking for permission to protest.
There was chaos yesterday as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of central Tehran. At least one person was killed in the unrest, prompted by recent events in Egypt.
(Mosaic Video Alert, February 1, 2011) Iranian Al Alam TV draws a comparison between deposed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and current Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, concluding that both regimes will be forgotten by history.
Last June, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaimed a "landslide" victory election triggering months of upheaval. Tehran and other cities have seen the largest street protests and rioting since the 1979 Iranian Revolution by supporters of reform candidates alleging voter fraud. For the past several weeks, Iranian opposition groups and various media outlets have been predicting a repeat of this past summer's events during the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. The anniversary is the most important day in Iran's political calendar.
Instead, the opposition turnout was dwarfed by huge crowds at the state-run celebrations in the center of Tehran waving Iranian flags and carrying placards declaring the "US and Britain the brothers of the devil", and "Down with Israel."
A triumphant Ahmadinejad declared that Iran was now a "nuclear state" and would soon triple its output of 20% enriched uranium.
"By God's grace, it was reported that the first consignment of 20 per cent-enriched uranium was produced and put at the disposal of the scientists," he addressed the cheering crowd who had gathered in Tehran Azadi square to mark the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.
But as Iranian state-controlled television beamed images of rallies supporting the regime in different cities, several Western and Arab television networks were reporting clashes between protesters and security forces in Tehran, Mashhad, Esfahan, Ahvaz, Shiraz and Tabriz. Opposition news websites alleged that security forces opened fire on anti-government demonstrators north of Revolution Square in Tehran, killing at least one person. A video posted on YouTube showing an Iranian security official pummeling an unarmed demonstrator was rebroadcast on several media outlets without confirming whether the video was shot recently or during the June events.
News quickly spread on Twitter that "opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi was attacked by security forces as he neared the main route of the march in Tehran." This was tweeted and retweeted hundreds of times. "His youngest son, Ali, was arrested," another tweet followed.
If one followed the "hashtag" (#IranElection) on Twitter on Thursday, he or she would have had the impression that the "Velvet Revolution" was rekindled. Although this was the wishful thinking of many, it was far from the truth. What went wrong?
Despite weeks of calls to action, the opposition movement failed to derail the holiday's agenda set by supporters of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian government had spent weeks co-opting the opposition plans. Dozens of activists and journalists were arrested, along with individuals suspected of using social networking websites to encourage protests against the regime.
Following in the footsteps of China, Google and other internet service providers had been blocked in Iran. SMS messages were interrupted, and internet communication was brought to a halt. Three major international broadcasters operating in the region, the BBC, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America, have recently accused the Iranian regime of "deliberate electronic interference" in their broadcasts.
It seems that the balance in the Iranian uprising is shifting in the regime's favor. This time Ahmadinejad was prepared... he succeeded in "unplugging" the opposition.
Article first published on the Huffington Post
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