Internationally revered Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has created some of the most inventive and transcendent cinema of the past thirty years, and Close-up is his most radical, brilliant work. This fiction-documentary hybrid uses a sensational real-life event—the arrest of a young man on charges that he fraudulently impersonated the well-known filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf—as the basis for a stunning, multilayered investigation into movies, identity, artistic creation, and existence, in which the real people from the case play themselves. With its universal themes and fascinating narrative knots, Close-up has resonated with viewers around the world.
“Empathy, not gamesmanship, is the real core of the film: Kiarostami’s curiosity about the personal and social forces that led Sabzian to keep up this ruse in the first place. The film’s final sequence remains one of cinema’s most moving depictions of an artist bridging the gap between fiction and real-life in a spirit of solidarity.” – Kenji Fujishima, Brooklyn
“Much acclaimed in France for its fascinating take on the cinematic apparatus, the film combines fiction with nonfiction in a novel and provocative manner: Werner Herzog has called this the greatest of all documentaries about filmmaking, and he may not be far off–if only because no other film does more to interrogate certain aspects of the documentary form itself.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Reader
“[Kiarostami] became famous for open-ended movies that must be completed by the viewer’s imagination, and this film—which opens itself up to greater suspicion with every turn—comes closest to providing a raison d’etre for his innovations. Instead of merely following a movie obsessive’s transformation of life into cinema, CLOSE-UP sees a wave of imagination spread out over everything it touches.” – Ben Sachs, Cine-File
“Close-up is neither a documentary nor a drama but a provocative, unconventional merging of the two, a meditation on perplexities of justice, social inequity, and personal identity that also subtly interrogates the processes and purposes of cinema.” – Godfrey Cheshire, Criterion
“Lighthearted and entertaining throughout, Close-Up is cinema as reconciliation—human reconciliation as well as the reconciliation of incongruous realities. The making of the film is an act of forgiveness: The reenactments bring together culprit and victims to negotiate their differences outside the epistemology of the courtroom.” – Art Forum
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