In the non-fiction narrative feature Close-Up (1989), Sabzian, an illiterate film buff who passed himself off as the Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf plays himself in reconstructions of his fraud… His trial is genuine documentary footage, and then Kiarostami films him meeting the real Mahkmalbaf for the first time, an encounter that may be real and scripted at the same time.
Although Kiarostami’s realism is not overtly political and certainly not polemical, the culture clash between educated, relatively wealthy Tehranians and the country’s impoverished majority is an abiding interest. During Sabzian’s trial (shot in verite style) he claims his fraud was not malicious, that he was in some sense delusional. All the principal characters ’play’ themselves in this fascinating self-reflexive master work.
Ranked at #17 in the Sight & Sound critics’ poll, Close-Up was voted = 9th in the directors’ poll.
Sunday’s screening in our PANTHEON series will feature free refreshments and a short introduction by an expert in the field.
The film is driven both by deep, unsentimental compassion and by genuine philosophical curiosity; it explores the fraught relationships between truth and falsehood, film and ’reality’, intention and action, and acknowledges, from start to finish, the role and responsibility of the director in his engagement with the people in his film.
Geoff Andrew, Sight & Sound
The greatest documentary about filmmaking I have ever seen.
Ali Reza Zarrin
Ali Reza Zarrindast
Also in This Series
In the Mood for Love
Wong Kar-wai's most popular film is a love story about two neighbours (Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung) who are drawn together by the long absences of their respective spouses.
In Abbas Kiarostami's self-reflexive non-fiction narrative feature, Sabzian, an illiterate film buff who passed himself off as the Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf plays himself in reconstructions of his fraud.
Orson Welles's debut was the most sophisticated movie to come out of the Hollywood studio system to that time, and opened up the creative possibilities of the narrative feature film for generations. For nearly 50 years it was "the best ever made".