The Basij are a paramilitary volunteer militia founded in Iran in 1979. Today, they are both an official and widely branching moral-religious movement and a civil police force with only the Quran as a law text. The Iranian director Mehran Tamadon has used no less than three years to get the shy Basiji to talk, and his intelligent and patient approach manages to uncover the human doubt behind the religious elite's pathos-ridden rhetoric, which acts like a magnet on the country's unemployed youth. Tamadon grabs the country's ideological split by the roots, and if all you know about Iran is what you read in newspaper headlines, you are up for quite a few surprises. 'Bassidji' gives us images from a landscape where martyrs are celebrated as idols and the wreckages of bombed tanks stick out of the desert sand like fossils from endless wars.
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