In early 2004, filmmaker Jean-Daniel Lafond (Salam Iran, a Persian Letter) and author Fred A. Reed (Persian Postcards: Iran after Khomeini) returned to Iran after a two-year absenceon the eve of the parliamentary elections that were to seal the political defeat of the Reform movement. They had come to interview several of the men and women who had propelled Mohammad Khatami to the presidency in 1997, with a mission to rebuild a civil society in Iran under the banner of human rights, democracy, free speech and a renewed dialogue of civilizations.
This is their report: Iran’s once lively press has been all but silenced, the country’s most outspoken journalists imprisoned, and, argues Mohsen Kadivar, one of the regime’s sharpest critics, the shah’s crown has now merely been replaced by the mollah’s turban.
Most surprising of all, however, was the populist bitterness expressed against the now beleaguered Reform movement. Too many promises had gone unfulfilled; too many commitments neglected.
President Khatami’s Reform movement had failed to improve the people’s livelihood. Worse, it would not, or could not, defend its strongest supporters against assaults by those determined to stop a democratic restructuring of the modern world’s first religious state. It was, said Saïd Hajjarian, the Reform strategist semi-paralyzed in an assassination attempt, “too late”: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his radical cohorts were already lurking in the shadows.
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About the Author
Jean-Daniel Lafond has written and directed more than a dozen films that embody his commitment to using creative filmmaking to document the political upheavals of our time, including Tropique Nord (Tropic North) (1994), La liberté en colère (1994), Haïti dans tous nos rêves (Haïti in All Our Dreams) (1995), L’Heure de Cuba (Last Call for Cuba) (1999), Le temps des barbares (The Barbarian Files) (1999), Salam Iran, une lettre persane (Salam Iran, a Persian Letter) (2002), Le faiseur de théâtre (2002) and Le cabinet du Docteur Ferron (The Cabinet of Dr. Ferron) (2003). His most recent work includes Le fugitif (American Fugitive), filmed in 2005 in Iran and the United States.