By Abbas Kiarostami



In 1989, after reading a short newspaper article about a young man who was arrested for impersonating the well-known filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Abbas Kiarostami became deeply affected and curious about the accused, an impoverished bookbinder and film buff named Hossein Sabzian. Kiarostami spontaneously abandoned his current film project and visited Sabzian in prison. This enigmatic fiction-documentary hybrid started out as a research into the motives of a crime that would be unthinkable without the reverence Iranian society has for art and poetry.


Sabzian was sitting next to a middle-class housewife on a bus in Tehran and claimed to be Makhmalbaf. Continuing his impersonation, Sabzian was invited to the woman’s home and befriended her family, offering to cast them all in his next film and proposing to use their house as a location. After borrowing money from the family that he failed to return, he was eventually exposed as a fraud and arrested.




‘Sabzian is not a mythomaniac’ says Kiarostami, ‘he represents the wish of a human being to be someone else’. With compassion the film narrates Sabzian’s story from numerous points of view, played by the real persons themselves. ‘Close Up is a film that I could say I didn't really make. It wasn't my doing. I didn't have any control over this film from the start.’ Close Up is considered today as one of Kiarostami’s most multilayered works and is regarded as a unique masterpiece and homage to cinema, art and life itself.


Nema-ye Nazdik


100 min. / 35 mm

Language: Persian


Cinematography: Ali Reza Zarrindast

Sound: Ahmad Asgari and Mahammad Haghighi

Editing: Abbas Kiarostami

Production: Ali Reza Zarrin for The Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children & Young Adults

Distribution: Celluloid Dreams

Abbas Kiarostami is an Iranian film director, screenwriter, photographer and film producer. An active filmmaker since 1970, Kiarostami has been involved in over forty films, including shorts and documentaries. He is also a poet, photographer, painter, illustrator, and graphic designer. Abbas Kiarostami is widely celebrated as one of the world's leading contemporary filmmakers. His recognizable, personal style of filmmaking is permeated by a forward-thinking, innovative spirit that has placed his work at the vanguard of filmmaking—all the while carving a place for Iranian cinema in modern film history.