Kiarostami + Makhmalbaf

Two evenings dedicated to giants of Iranian new wave and experimental cinema.

(Wednesday, Sept. 15th + Wednesday Sept. 22nd) Curated by Nesa Azimi

Situated somewhere between documentary and fiction, both Abbas Kiarostami's CLOSE-UP and Mohsen Makhmalbaf's SALAAM CINEMA are works that lead us to question conventional notions of these genres, and not least, ask us to rethink the traditional relationship between artist and audience. Shown together, both films are cinematic tributes of sorts to the public, the audience that is traditionally--when it comes to narrative film anyway--excluded from the stuff of filmmaking.  In both films, the audience is at the very heart of the story; they are its primary subjects.

"A TRUE ARTIST is someone who is close to the people." -Hossein Sabzian from Close-Up, on trial for impersonating the great filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf.

Salaam Cinema

Dir. Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Iran, 1995, 70 min.

No one knows better than Makhmalbaf that Iranians are movie mad, so when he placed a casting call for one hundred actors for a new film, he expected a crowd; what he got was a crush, 5,000 people just this side of a hadj. After genially announcing, "You are both the subject and the actors in the film," he begins auditions. What unfolds is a parade of individuals who, for love of cinema, are by turns brash, crafty, shy, touchingly open, unwittingly hilarious. From would-be Paul Newmans to women who are intellectual rebels under their chadors, this is very much about "casting." Makhmalbaf plays the film director as judge, tease, and actor. A brilliant exposé of the film that is in the hearts of a people, and the people that are the heart of cinema, this is experimental filmmaking in every sense, yet what we feel most is the director's controlling hand-precisely the paradox Makhmalbaf is exploring.-Pacific Film Archive