In Iran, “the new generation is really fighting”, rejoices Shole Pakravan before the release on Wednesday in France of “Seven winters in Tehran”, a documentary on the story of his daughter hanged in 2014 for having killed a man who tried to rape her.
“I have hope because the new generation is really fighting, unlike my generation,” Shole Pakravan told AFP of the protests that erupted in Iran over the death in custody he six months ago from Mahsa Amini. She had been arrested for breaking Iran’s strict dress code.
The documentary “Seven Winters in Tehran”, which was almost finished when these protests broke out in September 2022, looks back on the story of Reyhaneh Jabbari, who was executed in 2014 at the age of 26, and became an international symbol of the injustice in Iran.
The young woman was hanged for murder after seven years of detention, for having stabbed to death a former official of the ministry of intelligence, Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, who tried to rape her.
She refused the reprieve offered to her if she reconsidered her rape charges. His story and his poetic writings from prison are at the heart of this documentary, presented at the Berlin Film Festival in February.
“When I was young, I knew nothing about the violence and executions that existed in my country. It was hidden,” said Shole Pakravan, who now lives in Germany.
“Now, thanks to this film, we are able to talk about these things and show them to the whole world”.
The director, Steffi Niederzoll, said she was deeply inspired by the strength of this family. “They fought to break the cycle of violence in Iran,” she said.
“Reyhaneh forgave even the people who did this to her. She stayed true to her truth, her dignity and asked her family to do the same. This creates a grain of hope in this very sad story.”
– “I have hope” –
Shole Pakravan said he felt “hope” seeing the mass mobilization that followed Mahsa Amini’s death.
“Before, people went to prison, then came out and remained silent. Today, young girls go to prison, are raped there and yet they do not keep silent.”
But she also fears for the future. “I fight against executions and torture, so when I see protesters calling for the mullahs to be hanged, I worry.”
“I don’t know what system will succeed this one but I don’t want it to resort to executions or torture.”
Making the film and the accompanying book brought him some relief after so many years of suffering. “I took responsibility for Reyhaneh and it freed me. I can see the world around me again.”
The film was made from images filmed clandestinely, telephone recordings, letters. Rewarded at Cannes in May 2022, Iranian actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi, who lives in exile in Paris, lends her voice in the documentary to Reyhaneh Jabbari.