An interview with filmmakers of “Nasrin” Documentary

“Art is the best way to take on tyranny,” Nasrin Sotoudeh. 

Artists from around the world, including Academy Award-winning actress Olivia Colman and 4-time Grammy-winning singer Angélique Kidjo came together to make a documentary about the human rights lawyer and activist, Nasrin Sotoudeh. 

In 2018, Nasrin was arrested in Iran for representing women who protested Iran’s mandatory hijab law. She was sentenced to 38 years in prison, plus 148 lashes. 

Now there is a documentary that used footage over her career and interviews with other activists and her husband about the importance of her work. 

During the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, I was lucky to watch the documentary, Nasrin and speak with the filmmakers through Zoom, director, Jeff Kaufman and his producer and wife, Marcia Ross.

Kaufman was involved in a few documentaries about human rights violations and learned about Nasrin. She had become a lawyer to defend children, people being persecuted by the government like members of the Baha’i Faith, and women’s rights. In 2016, Kaufman decided that he had to do something to help Nasrin’s work.

But it was tricky, Kaufman couldn’t go to Iran and the family didn’t want to leave Iran. So with the help of selfless friends and colleagues, they sent recordings of Nasrin going about her daily life. We follow her buying presents at a bookstore, preparing for court, meeting clients in her home. This was done at great risk but they all had the same goal: to share the real Iran and to stop the tyranny their beloved country is facing. 

During filming, Nasrin was arrested after a case. Her husband and 20-year-old daughter were also arrested though they are now back home in Tehran. Their fight is nowhere near over. 

“These are such good people, they always ask how you are doing and are smiles and laughter in the midst of them most egregious pressure that you could possibly imagine,” Kaufman shares. 

Since the documentary has been completed, Kaufman and Ross have been working hard to spread the word. To make Nasrin’s case known keep her safer from further harm. It also helps her keep hope. 

“The hardest thing for political prisoners is that they're going to be forgotten. All of this energy the film generates really helps her,” Ross explains. 

What can you do? 

Watch the film, join their social media campaign (#FreeNasrin), sign up for the newsletters and their petition to free Nasrin

As much as Nasrin has helped others, we can do the same for her and continue her work.