Zamaneh media’s exclusive gala night premiering a film on the subject of capital punishment in Iran was received well and guests from Iran, Netherlands and other countries attended the event the film screening and concert.

Rieneke Van Santen, Zamaneh’s director talks about the organization’s Right to Life Project.

The 9 Nov gala featured the first screening of the film “It was 5 in the Morning” on the subject of the widespread use of the death penalty in Iran and performances by Hamed Nikpay, Habib Meftah, and the duo band, Oayim.

The evening started with Leili Nikoonazar welcoming the audience in Amsterdam, followed by performances of the duo band, Oayim who presented a fusion of different languages and sounds from around the world.

Watch Oayim’s performance:

Rieneke Van Santen, Zamaneh Media’s Director, in a short speech explained that the film “It was 5 in the Morning” and the gala night is part of Zamaneh project dealing with the subject of the capital punishment in Iran, a country which executes hundreds of people every year including child offenders. In the year 2017, Amnesty International confirmed the execution of four individuals who were under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed and “92 other juvenile offenders who remained on death row.”

Van Santen spoke of the ordeals of one of Zamaneh’s colleagues who was a political prisoner in 1980s Iran and had to witness the execution of fellow prisoner’s at 5 o’clock in the morning. To this date, the Islamic Republic executes prisoners waiting on death rows often at 5 o’clock in the morning every Wednesday— hence the title of the film: “It was 5 in the Morning.”

Watch Rieneke Van Santen’s speech:

Van Santen explained that this is the life story of many of Zamaneh Media’s colleagues “whether it’s from the executions in the 80’s, from the Green Movement in 2009, or part of the most recent uprisings only months ago.” What has brought these contributors together in Zamaneh is “the power of media and storytelling to expose the truth, to create dialogue, and to inspire critical thinking.”

Mostafa Heravi the director of “It was 5 in the Morning” (left) and Leili Nikoonazar, moderator (right).

The short film “It was 5 in the Morning,” directed by Mostafa Heravi “is featuring some of the top storytellers, who have gone beyond what sometimes seems humanly possible to tell their story,” Van Santen said.

influential Iranian artists and writer are presented with a stool and rope as two objects that symbolize death by hanging and asked what can be done with these two objects for the cause of life:

Fatemeh Ekhtesari, poet, writer and women’s rights activist, Mana Neyestani, cartoonist, Afshin Naghooni, artists, Shahin Najafi, singer and songwriter, Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam, dancer and choreographer, Mamak Khadem, singer and Kambiz Hosseini, satirist and talk show host are some of the individuals who tackled the above question in the film.

The director also speaks to Gohar Eshghi, mother of Sattar Beheshti a blogger who died under torture while in custody in Iranian prisons in 2012. He was arrested by the Iranian Cyber Police for criticizing the state in his blog.

Hamed Nikpay performed together with percussionist Habib Meftah

Mostafa Heravi in the question and answer period explained that in the film each artist or writer takes the audience into a world of their own emotions and experiences with the death penalty and wonders how spaces can be opened to breathe for the cause of life.

“It was 5 in the Morning” will be released online by Zamaneh Media on Human Rights Day, 10 December.

After the featuring of the film, the LA-based Iranian fusion vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Hamed Nikpay performed together with percussionist Habib Meftah.