On the Issues Episode 104: Azadeh Nikzadeh

Today’s guest is Azadeh Nikzadeh, an Iranian writer, director, producer, and women’s rights activist. Azadeh’s current project is a short film, inspired by the true story of Sarina Esmailzadeh, a young teenager who was brutally murdered by security forces during a women’s rights protest in September 2022, that aims to shed light on the struggles of Iranian women and their fight against state-led violence.

In this episode, Alon and Azadeh discuss the current status of women’s rights in Iran, the current protests in Iran against mandatory hijab, and what role the international community can play in the fight for democracy and freedom in Iran.

Full bio
Azadeh Nikzadeh is a Middle Eastern writer, director, producer, and women’s rights activist. Her brand is rarely-heard human rights and women empowerment stories and the misuse of religion to justify violence against women. Her films raise awareness of the plight of women’s rights in the MENA region and Iran in particular. She speaks and advocates projects on systematic and state-led violence against women and the importance of storytelling and disseminating the real-life stories of women advocates to create global solidarity. She has been a speaker at various events including the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 67th Session, the International Religious Freedom Summit for MENA region at Washington DC, and Women Creating Change Stand Up With Her Gala at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

She wrote and directed award-winning short films such as The Girl Sitting Here, Vida, and X, and produced feature documentaries including The Left Bank and The Credible Fear. She has won multiple fellowships and awards including Women Empowerment Fellowship, Asian Film Academy Fellowship from the Busan International Film Festival, Athena Film Festival Writing Lab, and Honorable Mention at the Charlotte Film Festival Social Justice Films. Her feature script DANDELION is a Sundance Writing Lab and Austin Film Festival Second Rounder.

Azadeh is the founder of Burnt Generation Studios, an intellectual property development, and production company that develops and produces independent films with the mission to create and promote authentic narratives to build grounds for mutual understanding and shifts in the collective perspective of the audiences.