UK, 2012, 58'
“Repeating someone else’s lies may be the most humiliating experience of your life”, reads the motto of Forced Confessions. “My ‘confession’ really damaged me. I can now understand how a raped person feels”, admits one of the film’s characters. Ever since his coming into power in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini based his rule on the scripting and staging of show trials broadcast throughout the country and meant to ‘expose’ Iranian intellectuals deemed subversive. When questioned about the numerous Iranians confessing publicly to having conspired against the regime, organizing protests or spying on behalf of Western governments, the regime has systematically denied using torture, mentioning instead its ability to ‘reform’ people.
Detained by the Iranian authorities in 2009, while reporting for Newsweek the post-election protests in the Islamic Republic, film-maker Maziar Bahari was himself forced to make a false public statement about his cooperation with foreign intelligence, before being released due to international pressure. On his release, thirty years after the first public confessions orchestrated by the Iranian Islamic regime, Bahari decided to look back at some prominent cases of (now émigré) Iranian intellectuals, who were forced to confess publicly before fleeing the country. Told in a sober tone and detailing the physical torture and psychological manoeuvrings employed by a repressive state, Forced Confessions makes a masterful use of first-hand testimonials and archival footage and gives a voice to influential Iranian intellectuals who are struggling with severe trauma while forced to live in exile.
15 March, 22:00, Cinema Union
16 March, 18:00, Cinemateca Eforie
International Premiere, IDFA International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2012