Kiarostami + Makhmalbaf

(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.


Dir. Abbas Kiarostami, Iran, 1990, 100 min.

(Nama-ye nazdik). A newspaper article caught Abbas Kiarostami’s eye: an unemployed young film buff had wormed his way into the home and hearts of a well-to-do family by impersonating the well-known director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. From this story Kiarostami made an offbeat film about cinema, the swindle and the dream. He enters the story cinema verité–style, recreating events leading up to the impostor’s exposure and arrest, then following the actual court proceedings. In droll reenactments by obliging real-life protagonists, and in its pathetic hero, the film at times plays like Woody Allen’s Take the Money and Run (“Let him have his lunch!” the mother says to the arresting gendarmes). Certainly, Hossein Sabzian’s accusers attribute to him a craftiness he doesn't possess. His failing is a naiveté that is shared by many: Close-Up is a very moving and surprising film about anomie and the creative responses to it.—Judy Bloch