Students in Weston receive national recognition for documentary

A Weston resident was wrongfully held as a hostage of Iran for five years.

Tom Krosnowski, Robyn Karashik and Larry Epstein

Apr 21, 2024, 4:52 PM

Updated 26 days ago


Two student filmmakers from Weston received national recognition for their documentary on the local impacts of an Iranian hostage situation.
Conservationist Morad Tahbaz was taken prisoner while he was conducting research in Iran in 2018 and he was wrongfully held for five years. A deal was reached for his release in September.
“I got hit in the left side of the head pretty hard, and I lost hearing in my left ear,” Tahbaz said.
Weston High School sophomore Nate Colman is Tahbaz's neighbor and a filmmaker. He and his co-producer, Jonah Rothlein, spent months researching, gathering video and reaching out to local politicians to tell the full story of life in the Evin Prison.
“I live down the street from Morad’s family. Starting last year, I knew I wanted to make a film about his experience,” Colman said.
The filmmakers entered their project in C-SPAN's "StudentCam" contest. It won the $5,000 grand prize and a national broadcast.
“Their incisiveness and insights were so impressive to me, because they saw the human element, but also the world's political facets,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
Editing four hours of interviews down to 14 minutes wasn’t easy, but Colman and Rothlein made it work.
“You need to take out a lot of things that you might love in the story because sometimes it doesn't work with how much time you have,” said Colman.
The documentary even includes an original score, composed and largely performed by Rothlein.
“I play mostly jazz guitar, but that’s not necessarily the most important thing when creating a score,” Rothlein explained. “Morad is an extremely strong and brave individual who experienced some of the worst conditions possible. What’s really important is making sure the music doesn’t overshadow that."
These students’ passion for filmmaking started in school. Although the contest offered national recognition and a cash prize, they said the reason they did it was for their love of the craft and the power of local storytelling.
“The best way to combat a forceful silencing is by storytelling,” Rothlein said.
“I think that he and his family are happy to see the documentary, and happy that local communities, and even nationally, people are able to hear from Morad,” Colman said.

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