Frontline World

About the Series


images from the episode
images from the episode

Episode Guide
EPISODE 302
Airdate: January 8, 2004

• Overview
• TV and Web Credits
• Press

>>Transcript

OVERVIEW

Iran, FORBIDDEN IRAN
A reporter's undercover journey
A harrowing report from inside Iran, where FRONTLINE/World reporter Jane Kokan risks her life to secretly film shocking evidence of the torture and murder of students and journalists opposed to the regime. Kokan, in disguise, escapes the constant surveillance of Iranian authorities to interview underground and jailed activists. read more

Spain, THE LAWLESS SEA
Investigating a notorious shipwreck

In November 2002, an aging oil tanker sank off the coast of Spain, causing one of Europe's worst environmental disasters. FRONTLINE/World reporter Mark Schapiro investigates what went wrong with the Prestige, and uncovers a largely unregulated maritime system that offers few safeguards against environmental disasters. read more

Belize, THE EXILE'S SONG
Reclaiming African roots

Over four hundred years, the Garifuna people of Central America's Caribbean coast have evolved a musical tradition that blends the African rhythms of their ancestors with indigenous instrumentation. FRONTLINE/World sent PRI's The World reporter Marco Werman to Belize, where Garifuna music is being kept alive by a new generation. read more

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TV AND WEB CREDITS

FORBIDDEN IRAN

Reporter/Videographer: JANE KOKAN; Additional Camera: MOHAMMED MOUJAHIR; Produced and Directed: CARLA GARAPEDIAN; Editor: CAMILLA TRESS; Associate Producer: ALISON AYLEN; Consultant: BEHZAD YAGHMAIAN; Additional Footage: REUTERS, LASSO FILMS AND TV (NETHERLANDS), IHA, IRIB; Music: MICHAEL ORMISTON; Executive Producer: DAVID HENSHAW; A Hardcash Productions Film for FRONTLINE/World and Channel 4

THE LAWLESS SEA

Reporter: MARK SCHAPIRO; Producer: ORIANA ZILL DE GRANADOS; Co-Producer and Videographer: CAMILLE SERVAN-SCHREIBER; Editor: DAVID RITSHER; Associate Producer: ALISON PIERCE; Researchers: KARI LUNDGREN, DIANE SOLOMON, FRANCINE MILLER; Additional Camera: JOSIAH HOOPER, DAVID RITSHER; Fixers: CLARA TARRERO, MERCEDES VILLAR; Music: FIA NA ROCA, NORDESIA PRODUCCIONS; Additional Footage: DEPARTEMENTO DE SALVAMENTO MARITIMO, MINISTERIO DE FOMENTO, ATLAS ESPANA TELE 5, NUNCA MAIS, WILDLIFE HEALTH CENTER, UC DAVIS, OCEAN FUTURES SOCIETY, ABC NEWS VIDEOSOURCE, AMERICAN BUREAU OF SHIPPING, AP / WIDE WORLD PHOTOS; Special Thanks: DEER CREEK FOUNDATION AND EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION OF AMERICA; Produced in association with the Center for Investigative Reporting

THE EXILE'S SONG

Reporter: MARCO WERMAN; Videographer/Field Producer: JASON LONGO; Producer: Ken DORNSTEIN; Editor: BILL ANDERSON; Music: STONETREE RECORDS; Marco Werman reports daily for public radio on PRI's The World.

FOR FRONTLINE/WORLD 302

Coordinating Producer for KQED: RACHEL RANEY; Associate Producer: SHERAZ SADIQ; Business Manager: SUZANNE ROMAINE; Web Producer: ANGELA MORGENSTERN; Web Editor: SARA MILES; Web Site Design: SUSAN HARRIS, FLUENT STUDIOS; Web Reporting: KELLY WHALEN; Promotion: ERIN MARTIN KANE; CHRIS KELLY; Community Engagement: BRENT QUAN HALL; ELLEN SCHNEIDER, ACTIVE VOICE; Interns: JUVERIA ALEEM; WANG FENG; SHILPI GUPTA; Legal: ERIC BRASS; DAVID MOYCE; Satellite Photos: SPACE IMAGING; Theme Music: SUPREME BEINGS OF LEISURE; Online Editor: MICHAEL H. AMUNDSON; Sound Mix: JIM SULLIVAN; Post Production Supervisor: CHRIS FOURNELLE; Post Production Assistant: CHETIN CHABUK; Series Design: JOHN MACGIBBON; FRONTLINE Coordinating Producer: ROBIN PARMELEE; FRONTLINE Production Manager: TIM MANGINI; FRONTLINE Series Manager: JIM BRACCIALE; KQED VP, TV Station Manager: DEANNE HAMILTON; Executive in charge for KQED: SUE ELLEN MCCANN; Executive in charge for WGBH/FRONTLINE: SHARON TILLER; Series Editor: STEPHEN TALBOT; Executive Producer: DAVID FANNING

WEB SITE 302 (Iran, Spain, Belize)

Web Producer: ANGELA MORGENSTERN; Web Site Design: SUSAN HARRIS, FLUENT STUDIOS; Web Editor: SARA MILES; Copyeditor: JOAN SAUNDERS; Series Editor: STEPHEN TALBOT; Associate Producer: SHERAZ SADIQ; Web Reporting: CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING, DAVID MONTERO, KELLY WHALEN; Interactive Interns: JUVERIA ALEEM, WANG FENG; Web Web Promotion and Outreach: BRENT HALL, JESSICA SMITH; Special Thanks: AMANDA HIRSCH, JESSICA LUDWIG, SAM BAILEY, WEN STEPHENSON, SUZANNE ROMAINE, ERIC BRASS, DAVID MOYCE, CAROL CICERONE

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PRESS REACTION

FRONTLINE/World examines another timely, important issue with "Forbidden Iran: A Reporter's Undercover Journey."

--USA Today

At a moment when the world is gripped by images of the devastating earthquake that struck Iran late last month and the American government is preoccupied with more menacing forms of Islamic fundamentalism, focusing on the oppression of Iran's pro-democracy movement seems almost an indulgence. And that makes this FRONTLINE/World segment all the more inconveniently timely. The documentary is Ms. Kokan's video diary of her trip last fall to Iran, which she visited by pretending to be an archeologist on a group tour. Her goal was to interview pro-democracy Iranian students and expose the torture and killings of dissidents in jail ... The interviews Ms. Kokan manages to obtain, at considerable risk, are fascinating mostly because they are so hard to get. At one point a dissident with a nom de guerre of Arzhang arranges for Ms. Kokan to have a telephone interview with a prominent student leader, Amir Fahravar, in jail ...

The piece is personal, quixotic and odd -- both affecting and affected. Ms. Kokan, while unquestionably brave, spends a lot of time on her own perils: we see her walking around and donning Muslim dress and sneaking out of her hotel to send coded e-mail messages from an Internet café. In her first person-narrative, she never says "we" or explains that a colleague came along, disguised as a teacher, to film her every step and to record interviews.

Still, perhaps because it is so jagged, the piece is a sharp reminder of the injustice that goes on, almost unnoticed, in Iran. According to the documentary, Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human rights lawyer who in 2003 became the first Muslim woman ever to win the Nobel Peace prize, has agreed to investigate the death of Ms. Kazemi. The documentary works best as a tribute to Ms. Kazemi and to the story she never had a chance to finish reporting.

--The New York Times

"Courageous" is not a word used often in conjunction with TV journalists, but it's unavoidable with reporter Jane Kokan, who risks her life to report about student protests in Iran ... It's one of three strong stories on FRONTLINE/World, which also reports on an oil spill in northwestern Spain that spilled twice as much as the Exxon Valdez in Alaska but was lost among the news of impending war in Iraq. There is also a story on a strain of African music in Central America called paranda.

--The Hartford Courant

Canadian journalist Jane Kokan has a remarkable story: At age 27, she jumped off the career ladder as a financial reporter, broke up with her fiance and went off to cover the war in Bosnia. Since then she has devoted herself to telling the stories of the people oppressed by war and dictatorship--and on at least one occasion nearly paid for it with her life. Unfortunately her latest investigation, "Forbidden Iran," shows either Kokan or her producers a little too eager to call attention to her willingness to stand in harm's way. The report follows Kokan during her visit last fall to Iran to look into charges that the mullahs running the country are cracking down brutally on student dissent ... Posing as an archeologist, she entered the country with a tour group. From there she was shadowed by an official Iranian "minder," her phone was tapped and her email monitored. In this way "Forbidden Iran" reminded me of "Welcome to North Korea" and "Beneath the Veil," other documentaries made under repressive conditions. But Kokan doesn't deliver much new or compelling information about what's going on in the Iranian dissident community. The film spends way too much time pushing our emotional buttons, juxtaposing gruesome photos of Iranian torture victims with reminders of how much trouble Kokan will be in if the police wise up to her. In the end, I'm not sure I learned anything that couldn't have been reported from London (or heaven, forbid, New York.)

--The Kansas City Star

 

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