Directed by Mina Akbari • 2019 • Iran
Journalist Mina Akbari’s FORMERLY YOUTH SQUARE opens with a photograph of a group of 70 journalists taken about 20 years ago in Javanan Square. Of those, only six continue to work in their profession, including the filmmaker. Many emigrated after the 2009 unrest that followed allegedly rigged elections, a few were imprisoned, and others simply left the field. Akbari narrates the film and interviews many of the journalists from the shuttered Jame’e newspaper. They speak about repression and their professional histories, referring to the difficulties and pitfalls of their careers in Iran. Formerly Youth Square drew such a large audience because such sensitive topics are rarely discussed in public forums and because the filmmaker is herself a respected journalist.