Close-Up not only speaks to us of the human need for dreams and the cinema’s enormous power of fascination; the film also introduces a damaged character, who pretends to be someone else in order to regain his own self-respect. Kiarostami is very clear on this point. ‘The main issue raised by the film is the need that people feel, whatever their material circumstances, for respect and social recognition […] Ultimately, what the film is dealing with is the difference between the “ideal self” and the “real self”; the greater the difference, the more unbalanced the person.’ To want to be someone else—a feeling that the film-maker confesses to knowing well, which undoubtedly justifies speaking of autobiographical elements in the film—has little or nothing to do with playing a game, in this context. Sabzian is a weak and pathetic character who tries to escape the frustrations of his life by making an unusual bid for integration into a society that excludes him. That is why his question (his plea, really) to Kiarostami when the director visits him in prison is simply: ‘Could you make a film about my suffering?’”

Alberto Elena, The Cinema of Abbas Kiarostami

"It was really bizarre, that Sabzian business. You know I had no interest in being photographed before this incident. But then not just Sabzian—many other people started pretending they were me! One of them actually got married while pretending he was me! My face became publicly recognizable soon after I decided to have a few photographs of me available in public to prevent these sorts of identity thefts. It is really pathetic, if you think of it. Filmmakers and filmmaking is so popular in Iran because all other forms of expression have been denied to people."

Mohsen Makhmalbaf

"Whenever I see a film, I ‘dissolve’ myself in it to such an extent that I reach the bottom. I fade out and perhaps… I get lost in it. And this has played an essential role in my life. Cinema is important to me. It’s like a prism. A good film is part of my life. With every good film I see, I feel reborn. It feels as if I made it myself, as if it were my creation. I identify with the director. I identify with the actors. I feel attuned and in harmony with the atmosphere of the film. I feel as if it’s my story. That’s how films carry me away. That’s why they’ve become my obsession. […] When it was all over, and I reentered society, I felt people’s eyes on me. Narrow-minded people who talked about everything but my enthusiasm for the movies. What I did wasn’t minor—tell the whole world about it—but that irrational act proved my love for film. I’m satisfied because I made one of my dreams come true. I was Makhmalbaf for four days. I remember Orson Welles’s advice to his students who wondered how to find the money for their films. ‘Steal it,’ he said. ‘At least you’ll fulfill your hopes.’"

Hossein Sabzian

"With this type of movie, we as viewers can create things according to our own experiences—the things we don’t see, that aren’t visible. There are eleven people in this movie who are not visible. At the end you know you haven’t seen them, but you feel you know who they were and what they were about. I want to create the type of cinema that shows by not showing. This is very different from most movies nowadays, which are not literally pornographic but are in essence pornographic, because they show so much that they take away any possibility of imagining things for ourselves. My aim is to give the chance to create as much as possible in our minds, through creativity and imagination. I want to tap the hidden information that’s within yourself and that you probably didn’t even know existed inside you. We have a saying in Persian, when somebody is looking at something with real intensity: He had two eyes and he borrowed two more. Those two borrowed eyes are what I want to capture—the eyes that will be borrowed by the viewer to see what’s outside the scene he’s looking at. To see what is there and also what is not there.” — Abbas Kiarostami


"I remember for a long time as a young man I wouldn’t take what I see on TV for granted. I would never accept generalizing ‘that’s how Americans are,’ or ‘that’s how Japanese are.’ I was always much more interested in individuals rather than a culture or a country in general sense. This collective judgment or agreement on certain culture has always annoyed me. I deeply believe, excluding ideological positions, that we are the same. In details we can have our differences but in the main aspects of our lives—our sufferings, joy and pain—no matter if we are Japanese, American or Iranian, we are the same human beings. So if you have this as the principle of life and relationship, then it shows in your work."
Abbas KiarostamiBorn June 22, 1940

"I remember for a long time as a young man I wouldn’t take what I see on TV for granted. I would never accept generalizing ‘that’s how Americans are,’ or ‘that’s how Japanese are.’ I was always much more interested in individuals rather than a culture or a country in general sense. This collective judgment or agreement on certain culture has always annoyed me. I deeply believe, excluding ideological positions, that we are the same. In details we can have our differences but in the main aspects of our lives—our sufferings, joy and pain—no matter if we are Japanese, American or Iranian, we are the same human beings. So if you have this as the principle of life and relationship, then it shows in your work."

Abbas Kiarostami
Born June 22, 1940

Filmmakers photographed by Xavier Lambours.


"People have curiosity, they have intelligence, they have interest in understanding their peers. But producers and directors of cinema have decided that the seats in the theaters have been made to transform people’s minds to lazy minds. As soon as they enter a theater they must become moron consumers who must be fed information. Those same people, when they leave the theater, when they look behind the curtains they are curious about their neighbors, they can guess if their neighbors are siblings or a couple, how old they are, what their occupation is. They are curious about each other and they can understand each other without being fed information. Why should it be different in cinema? In real life, when someone’s partner calls them, they can tell from the first word their partner says what their mood is. In my films, I try to give people as little information as possible, which is still much more than what they get in real life. I feel that they should be grateful for the little bit of information I give them. If they were as inquisitive when they come to watch my films as they are in real life, they’d make my life easier." — Abbas Kiarostami, Filmmaker Magazine

"People have curiosity, they have intelligence, they have interest in understanding their peers. But producers and directors of cinema have decided that the seats in the theaters have been made to transform people’s minds to lazy minds. As soon as they enter a theater they must become moron consumers who must be fed information. Those same people, when they leave the theater, when they look behind the curtains they are curious about their neighbors, they can guess if their neighbors are siblings or a couple, how old they are, what their occupation is. They are curious about each other and they can understand each other without being fed information. Why should it be different in cinema? In real life, when someone’s partner calls them, they can tell from the first word their partner says what their mood is. In my films, I try to give people as little information as possible, which is still much more than what they get in real life. I feel that they should be grateful for the little bit of information I give them. If they were as inquisitive when they come to watch my films as they are in real life, they’d make my life easier." — Abbas Kiarostami, Filmmaker Magazine

"When I’m in the process of making a movie I’m not thinking about the finished result, and whether people have to see it once or more than once, and what the reaction to it will be. I just make it, and then I live with the consequences, some of which may not be as pleasant as I’d like! I know one thing, however. Many viewers may come out of the theater not satisfied, but they won’t be able to forget the movie. I know they’ll be talking about it during their next dinner. I want them to be a little restless about my movies, and keep trying to find something in them."
— Abbas Kiarostami (born June 22, 1940)

"When I’m in the process of making a movie I’m not thinking about the finished result, and whether people have to see it once or more than once, and what the reaction to it will be. I just make it, and then I live with the consequences, some of which may not be as pleasant as I’d like! I know one thing, however. Many viewers may come out of the theater not satisfied, but they won’t be able to forget the movie. I know they’ll be talking about it during their next dinner. I want them to be a little restless about my movies, and keep trying to find something in them."

Abbas Kiarostami (born June 22, 1940)

Ten Films by Abbas Kiarostami

Where is the Friend’s Home? | Close-Up | Life, and Nothing More… | Through the Olive Trees | Taste of Cherry | The Wind Will Carry Us | Ten | Shirin | Certified Copy | Like Someone in Love

Abbas Kiarostami and the cast of Like Someone in Love at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

Abbas Kiarostami

Abbas Kiarostami

Close-Up // dir. Abbas Kiarostami

Close-Up // dir. Abbas Kiarostami