dir. Abbas Kiarostami, Iran 1990.
“Ill-will is the veil that covers art”
Remembering Abbas Kiarostami with the German premiere of the 2015 restoration of his 1990 masterpiece, CLOSE-UP, followed by a panel of Iranian filmmakers discussing their experiences and encounters with the man and his work.
Exposition as exposure. Artifice as articulation. Lies as love. The might of mutuality. A poor man deceives a middle class family into believing that he is a famous filmmaker, and enrapturing dialogues about creative instincts and work habits ensue.
It’s all true, related through documentary footage of the ensuing trial, and staged reenactments of the events leading up to it, featuring all figures involved as themselves. How did they reach the point of serenity to where this trickster and his marks would agree to cooperate in a retelling their story together? Only an act of pure cinema can say.
Kiarostami tweaked the aspect ratio and the color palette in this slightly revised version, yielding a stronger contrast between the captured and the conjured footage that demarcate the beginning and the end of the story reaching a reconciliation in interspersed fashion.
He recognizes empathetically in the people involved that, no matter our social station, even in times of economic unreliability, we still yearn to discuss art. We are even willing to lie, and believe lies, in order to do so. There is a romance to that. But there’s an even stronger romance to letting go of those lies, and connecting to each other as ourselves. Kiarostami invites us to watch that more potent and enduring romance unfold.