Iran/CH/F 2009 114'
For almost three years I moved in the circles of arguably the most extreme defendants of the Islamic Republic of Iran (the Basij) in order to better understand their ideas. Even though we come from the same country, the contradictions could not be greater. As an Iranian who lives in France, as an atheist and son of militant communists under the Shah, I offer an enormous target for aggression for all those who follow the dogmas of the regime. But nonetheless a dialogue does occur. But to what extent are we able to question our own convictions and try to understand each other?
Are the questions asked in this film by director Mehran Tamadon sufficient to allow for an understanding of the principles of a totalitarian discourse? Are his questions sufficient for him, an Iranian living in France, to grasp a country that is his but in which he no longer feels at home?
Mehran Tamadon’s only weapons are a camera, a microphone and a long string of probing questions. He sets out in search of the BASSIDJI, the popular militia created in 1980 and whose militants joined the official army at the time of Saddam Hussein’s attack on Iran and who mostly died in the war. The role now of the bassidji is as guardians of the Islamic revolution. In order to confront them, he questioned individuals for two years, without hiding his identity or his intentions. He follows them to former battlefields where they come in their hundreds to mourn their martyrs, sacrificed to the war. He participates in meetings where, in the cover of darkness, the bassidji weep for their martyrs and pray that they may themselves be as valiant and devout. He followed one of the militia who travels through the streets of Tehran on a motor scooter and who is responsible for ensuring that the official precepts of interpretation of Islam are respected.
For the film, he puts in place a system by which Iranians can address themselves indirectly through a recorder to the bassidji chiefs, to express their reserves and doubts. He also tries to confront them with his experiences in the West; he lives the life of an infidel with his partner without being married, while they refuse even to look a woman in the eyes.
Mehran Tamadon tries tirelessly to understand. He participates passionately in verbal jousting, arguing and reasoning. At last, almost at the end of his strength, he hits a wall. Has he asked one question too many?
Visions du Réel Nyon 2009