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What happens when cinema becomes an obsession? I explore that question and many more in this episode on Abbas Kiarostami’s 1990 genre-blending film, “Close-Up.” It revolves around the true story of Hossein Sabzian, a passionate cinephile who deceives a family by impersonating the director, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and is charged with fraud in an Iranian court. All the people involved in the story play themselves in the film, but, at every turn, Kiarostami blends documentary and fiction and raises questions about the nature of truth and the construction of reality. Not only that, this film is an unforgettable portrait of a man willing to sacrifice everything for cinema.
Full show notes:
- Listen to the other films in my series on formative art house films that changed my life: The Passion of Joan of Arc, La Jetée, Cleo from 5 to 7, and L’avventura.
- Listen to my other episodes about Abbas Kiarostami: The Koker Trilogy, Where Is My Friend’s House? , and Taste of Cherry
- Senses of Cinema article by Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa about Abbas Kiarostami
- More information about the Iranian New Wave
- The Sight and Sound poll that placed Close-Up in the Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time
- Godfrey Cheshire’s essay “Close-Up: Prison and Escape”
- Read the original article in Sorush Magazine from 1989 that tells the story of Hossein Sabzian. This article inspired Kiarostami to make the film.
- Listen to my episodes on Krzysztof Kieślowski: The Double Life of Veronique and Dekalog
- Read the article in Bidoun by Coco Ferguson that details Sabzian’s death and his final years
- More information about the short documentary Close-Up Long Shot
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