Social media's role in the would-be Iranian revolution of 2009 is by this point much hyped, but no one has yet covered it quite like Ali Samadi Ahadi in The Green Wave. In both form and content the filmmaker refuses the orthodox, eschewing the official record in favor of narrated first-person accounts excerpted from individual blogs and Twitter accounts, animated here in a style reminiscent of Waltz With Bashir. In this way, the film is as much a narrative as it is a documentary. Even so, Ahadi frequently cuts to conventional talking-head interviews with participants in the protests and actual footage of what they describe. The strikingly composed illustrations and directly emotional tenor amplify not only the terror stirred by the country's militarized police force (whose plainclothes appearance only makes watching their deeds more disturbing) but also ballot-box irregularities—and likely rigging—that put hanging chads to shame. Says one despondent interviewee: "It is clear now that no change is possible through ballots anymore." The Green Wave oscillates between that sort of despair and cautious optimism, ultimately leaning toward the latter in a way that feels earned rather than forced. That Ahadi and his team were able to safely compile, let alone edit together, this much ground-level footage is a feat in and of itself; that it comes together in such a compelling manner makes it almost vital.
Young Iranian protestors.
Opens Fri., Aug. 24 at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Not rated. 80 minutes.