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Nazli K. Lou Brings the Heartbreaking Story of Atefeh Sahaaleh to Life

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A shocking portrayal of real life events that occurred in Iran in 2004, the film For the Birds exposes viewers to the brutal reality of what it is to be a young woman in many parts of the world today.

The multi award-winning and highly controversial film, which stars Nazli K. Lou, revolves around the horrifying true story of Atefeh Sahaaleh, a 16-year-old girl who was publicly executed at the gallows after being wrongly accused of having an affair with a married man. If that is not bad enough, the truth of the matter is the man raped her.

While K. Lou’s character Atefeh, who was charged with adultery and crimes against chastity, was only 16 at the time, the head judge of Neka, Iran, the town where the story takes place, faked documents stating that she was 18 in order to abide with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a document signed by the Iranian government where they promised not to execute anyone under the age of 18.

Prolific to say the least, Nazli K. Lou’s performance in the starring role of Atefeh will be talked about for generations to come; but more importantly, her incredible dedication to the part has provided a platform for promoting this poor woman’s story, one that may have been lost like so many others had this film not been made.

“I felt it was my obligation and duty as an Iranian woman to use my skills to bring the story to the attention of the world,” said K. Lou. “My entire being was dedicated to perfecting this character.”

The way she brings her character’s heart-wrenching story to life is beyond perfection; it is downright chilling.

During the execution scene many onlookers surround K. Lou as she screams for help, but as her cries fall on deaf ears it seems they are too afraid to speak up, or even more disheartening, they are simply blind to the injustice that is occurring before their very eyes.

As we watch the sheer terror emanating from her eyes the reality and scope of how bad things are for women in certain parts of the world is inescapably brought to the forefront.

Ms. K. Lou has starred in several films over the course of her career, however her performance in For the Birds takes the cake. Thanks to K. Lou’s magnificent portrayal, the film has garnered several awards including Best Short Film at the Cleveland International Film Festival, two awards from the Directors Guild of America, the Independent Spirit Award at the Sedona International Film Festival, the Special Jury Award at the USA Film Festival, and many more.

When it comes to devastating events like this, words can only say so much; however, through the power of films like For the Birds we find an unmatched medium for portraying the often hard to swallow truths of these horrific situations.

The only saving grace for Ms. Atefeh Sahaaleh in the aftermath of her death is the fact that women like Nazli K. Lou, and the film’s writer and director Tara Atashgah, are passionate about sharing her story in order to bring awareness to the rest of the world in an effort to prevent executions like this from continuing.

“On the first day of the shooting I arrived on set and it was still dark. I will never forget that moment, and the feeling that ran through my body when I stood in front of the justice sign. I knew I could not change the past but I was glad I could do this tiny act to hopefully change the future,” said K. Lou.

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