Heartbreaking content triumphs over self-indulgent form in the highly emotional and personal docu “My Stolen Revolution.” Iran-born, Sweden-based helmer Nahid Persson Sarvestani (“The Queen and I”) tracks down five female activists who, like her, were stalwarts of Iran’s Communist Party in the late 1970s. But unlike Sarvestani, who managed to flee the country, these women spent years suffering physical and mental tortures in the prisons of the Islamic regime, and their gripping accounts of their horrifying experiences contrast sharply with the director’s narcissistic, self-serving narration. Fest, cinematheque and human-rights-forum play should segue into broadcast.(Documentary) Pic is framed by Sarvestani’s quest to understand the final days of her younger brother Rostam, 17, who was executed by the Islamic Republic after six months of imprisonment. She longs to expiate the guilt she feels over his death, a sense that dominates the pic even though the testimony of her strong, dignified interviewees is far more compelling. Descriptions of how their jailers tried to break their spirit, and turn them into collaborators, are especially chilling. Archival footage and photos and artwork created by the women poignantly illustrate their recollections.
A Real Reel Doc production in association with SVT with the support of SFI, Media, in association with NRIC. (International sales: Illumina Films, Amsterdam.) Produced, directed by Nahid Persson Sarvestani. Screenplay, Sarvestani, Zinat S. Loyd.
Camera (color, HD), Nicklas Karpaty, Makan Ebrahimi; editor, Emil Engerdahl, Sarvestani; music, Adam Norden; sound, Jons Meyer Leegard; animation, Masoud Raouf, associate producer, Setareh Persson. Reviewed at Gothenburg Film Festival (Inside Iran), Feb. 3, 2013. (Also in Rotterdam, Thessaloniki Documentary film festivals.) Running time: 75 MIN.
Nahid Persson Sarvestani, Monireh Baradaran, Azar Al Kanaan, Nazli Partovi, Parvaneh Aref, Soudabeh Ardavah. (Swedish, Farsi dialogue)