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Close-Up film image

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.


Nov 19: Introduced by Dr. Hessam Dehghani, assistant professor of teaching Persian language and Culture at the University of British Columbia.


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.

Werner Herzog


About this month’s guest speaker:

Dr. Hessam Dehghani earned his first PhD in Linguistics from Allameh Tabātabāi University, on the “Structural Analysis and Phenomenological Study of Persian Literature,” in 2012. He then earned another PhD in Philosophy from Boston College in 2019. Between August 2019 and December 2020, he was a post-doctoral fellow and associate researcher at Harvard Divinity School and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, where he focused his research on the formation of Persianate identity in Persian mystic literature. He has presented on different aspects of Persian mystic literature regularly at Harvard University and Boston College.

Besides his research interests, he has been teaching English as a foreign language in Iran since 2000, and Persian and Arabic in North America for the past 8 years. Since 2012, he has taught Persian and Arabic and has directed the Persian program single-handedly at Boston College for which he received a teaching award and was nominated for a leadership award from that institution. In 2021, Dr. Dehghani started his tenure-track position as an assistant professor of teaching Persian language and Culture at the University of British Columbia.


Presented by


Abbas Kiarostami


Hossein Sabzian, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Abolfazl Ahankhah

Country of Origin





In Persian with English subtitles

89 min

Book Tickets

This event has passed.



Ali Reza Zarrin


Abbas Kiarostami


Ali Reza Zarrindast


Abbas Kiarostami

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This program highlights two landmarks in feminist film: Maya Deren's surrealist short Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), and Vera Chytilova's subversive new wave farce, Daisies (1966), perhaps the most radical, confrontational film of the era.

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The consummate director of the silent era, Murnau was schooled in German Expressionism and embraced the fluidity and dynamism of the moving camera. Invited to Hollywood he prefigured film noir with this tale of a married villager seduced by a city vamp.

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Pather Panchali

Satyajit Ray's first film opened eyes in the West. It's a naturalistic portrait of the childhood of a Brahman child, Apu, growing up in a village far from twentieth century technology in West Bengal.

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The Night of the Hunter

One of the strangest and most beguiling movies you'll ever see, from a poetic, nightmarish novel by Davis Grubb, a fable about two children fleeing from a psychotic evangelical preacher (Robert Mitchum). Charles Laughton's only film as director.

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The Battle of Algiers

French Colonel Mathieu hunts for Algerian resistance leader Ali la Pointe in Pontecorvo's classic, which draws the battle lines between colonialists and Arab insurrectionists in a pulsating, "fly-on-the-wall" documentary style.

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Jacques Tati was modernity's clown; technology his banana skin. Here his alter-ego Monsieur Hulot navigates a sterile Paris that seems designed to thwart his every wish.

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