Modern Cinema From Around the World: A Review of Abbas Kiarostami’s “Close-Up [کلوزآپ ، نمای نزدیک]”

Close-Up Cover
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Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-Up  (1990) is a docu-fiction film that is a rendering of real life events depicted by the actual people who went through these events. The film follows Hossain Sabzian, a lower-income paper clerk, as he impersonates the Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and tricks a family into giving him their time and money. Sabzian tells the family that they will be given lead roles in his upcoming film, and he even makes them practice their lines. During the main portion of the film—Sabzian’s real-life court procedure—Kiarostami recreates everything that happened in real life leading up to Sabzian’s arrest, such as Sabzian’s first encounter with Mahrokh Ahankhah (the mother of the family) on public transport– where he signs a copy of “his” screenplay for The Cyclist. During the court proceedings, Sabzian is framed in a close-up shot the entire time (hence the title) and must defend and explain his actions in front of the judge. In addition to being a courtroom procedure film, the audience is witness to moments of the filmmaking process through scenes with Kiarostami and his team. For example, there is a stretch of scene dedicated to Kiarostami asking a judge to secure a permit to film during the trial, which they do receive.

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