For Neda is the story of Neda Agha-Soltan whose tragic death on June 20, 2009 came to symbolize for many the struggle in Iran. Filming without official approval and at great risk, Iranian journalist Saeed Kamali Dehghan worked secretly inside Iran to locate and film interviews with Neda’s family for the first time, while Thomas interviewed current exiles, including a friend of hers from her university days and Arash Hejazi, the doctor who was at Neda’s side when she was shot and who held her as she died. For Neda also includes videos, photos, private diaries and letters supplied by her family.
Even as a young girl, Neda strove to lead her life in opposition to the regime’s restrictive treatment of women. As her mother explains, she rebelled from the start, refusing to wear a chador, the traditional Iranian head covering, when she went to school. Her father Ali proudly says their daughter’s defiant nature was innate, calling her “a fearless child.” Later in life, Neda worked as a tour guide in Turkey, read “subversive” books and pursued her passion for singing and Arab dancing in the only places she could, in private and behind closed doors.
What emerges is a portrait of a young woman whose ordinary desire for personal freedom and self-expression were confined by living in the Islamic Republic of Iran, but who showed tremendous courage in standing up for those freedoms. When President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blatantly rigged the 2009 election, she marched with her compatriots in the street, even though she knew she was risking her life as the regime began a violent crackdown.