Neda Agha-Soltan is the lovely 26-year-old woman who has become the martyred face of the Iranian people. A lover of pop music, she was heading home from a music lesson last week when the car she was riding in was stuck in traffic caused by the demonstrations in Tehran.
She got out for some fresh air, and was shot in the chest, apparently by a member of the Basij, the much-feared, government-backed militia that patrol the streets beating, arresting, and sometimes shooting peaceful demonstrators. Instead of apologizing or attempting to make amends for her murder, Iran's government prohibited her mosque from holding a memorial service, and told her family members they couldn't have a funeral. She was engaged to be married.
Soraya Manutchehri was an Iranian wife brutalized by her husband, falsely accused of adultery, and stoned to death by villagers empowered by a corrupt local mullah shortly after the Islamic revolution led by Ayatollah Khomenei in 1979. Her death is the subject of a haunting new movie, The Stoning of Soraya M.
that is being released this weekend in cities across the United States.
If you see this brilliant film, be prepared to be disturbed. You will also emerge with a newfound admiration for Shohreh Aghdashloo, the accomplished Iranian-American actress who plays Zahra, the aunt of Soraya, and the heroine of this film, and also for all the independent-minded women of Iran.
I reviewed this movie
for Politics Daily in May. Since then, I met Aghdashloo at a reception in Washington, where she spoke to a spellbound audience about her experience in making a movie about the plight of women in her homeland.
She had seen a film of an actual stoning two decades earlier, and when Cyrus Nowrasteh, the Iranian-American director, called to inquire about her availability, she simply asked what took him so long.
I've never plugged a book or film before, but these are disquieting times, and it's important to know why Iranians are marching. Remember that old phrase, "Coming to a theater near you." This movie is opening in more than three dozen U.S. cities. Here's the complete list. You'll be moved to anger and to tears, but you will not be sorry you went to see the film about the stoning of Soraya M. You will, however, feel sorry for women around the world who live under tyranny.
Berkeley, Encino, Irvine, La Jolla, Pasadena, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, and Sausalito, California.
Hartford and New Haven, Connecticut
Miami and Tampa, Florida
Cambridge and West Newton, Massachusetts
Edina and Minneapolis, Minnesota
Montclair and Skillman, New Jersey
Malverne, New York City, Roslyn, and White Plains, New York
Austin, Dallas, and Houston, Texas
Washington, District of Columbia