In 1988, the Islamic Republic of Iran suddenly locked down its prisons, where thousands of political prisoners were serving their sentences, some as long as seven years.

The only permitted visitation was from a 3-member committee: an Islamic judge, a public prosecutor and an intelligence officer. The committee briefly and individually questioned almost every political prisoner about his or her beliefs. Nothing short of a medieval Inquisition, except that the prisoners were not told that their life depended on their answers.

Five months later, the prison authorities summoned the prisoner families and gave each a bag:

“Your prisoner was executed.”

— no explanation, no last will, no body, no grave.

Combining survivor testimonies with reenactments and archival footage, ‘The Secret Fatwa’ peels away the layers of a secret massacre, a crime against humanity that the Islamic Republic has tried to bury for decades and the survivors have vowed never to forget.