The war with Iraq was the largest mobilization of the Iranian population, achieved primarily by producing and promoting a culture of martyrdom based on religious themes found in Shi’a Islam. Martyrdom became state policy. Khomeini made it clear the war was a spiritual one that the people, and not a professional army, would fight. It would be a sacred defense; a war of good against evil, of spirit against military might, where a human wave of believers would form a wall of defense against the Iraqis. Over 800,000 people died. Anthropologist, writer and filmmaker Roxanne Varzi spent twelve years researching and writing about post-Revolution public culture in Iran. As an Iranian-American who was born in Iran and left shortly after the Revolution she found that even though she had missed the war with Iraq it was omnipresent. She spent a year in Iran without a film permit speaking to ideologically driven mural painters, museum curators, war vets and other cultural producers alongside the secular youth who were meant to consume the culture created by the government. The result is an experimental documentary and meditation on the aftermath of the war, and especially the mourning after. Dr. Roxanne Varzi (Tehran Tourist) for a conversation on her compelling and informative film about her homeland, martyrdom and the devastating consequences of war.
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