Skip to main content

SAINT CLARA

Israel, 1995 (MIFF 1996, Contemporary World Cinema )

Director: Ori Sivan, Ari Folman

Blurring the line between documentary and fiction, Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Salaam Cinema is the Iran director/activist's typically offbeat tribute to a century of cinema. Such is the popularity of the cinema in Iran that a modest press ad for a film audition can result in a street riot! Looking for 100 actors for his new film, the director is overwhelmed when 5000 people turn up. In recording the film making process that follows Makhmalbaf illuminates the nature of these cattle calls', the director as dictator, and the importance of cinema in daily life.

People of all backgrounds appear and subsequent screen tests disclose a legion of amateur hopefuls who sing, dance or show off altogether stranger talents They confide their ambitions, expose their conceits or simply claim their similarity to Paul Newman and Marilyn Monroe.

Most importantly the auditions also speak of the realities of life in Iran by providing a forum for intellectuals, students and women-sections of the Iranian populace seldom allowed voice-to talk about their lives. Makhmalbaf, a 'celebrity' in Iranian circles. relentlessly, cruelly interrogates his applicants. pitting them against each other, reducing them to tears. Only as the process unfolds are the director's real motives exposed. As such, this is perhaps the most telling, the most revealing of the flood of films responding to cinema's centenary. Unmissable. (tb)

"Makhmalbaf fashions a delightful, vente-like •irthday card out of the auditions for a film we

f

ever see. Witty and slyly resonant, the simple remise turns into a reflexive treat" Godfrey Cheshire. Variety

See also...

WALTZ WITH BASHIR (MA15+)

We may forget the past, but the past won't forget us.Director Art Folman's animated documentary was surprisingly passed over for a prize in this year's Cannes competition; for many viewers the ... More »

CONGRESS, The

The only way Robin Wright can succeed in Hollywood's technicolour cesspit is to sell herself... literally. ... Ari Folman's follow-up to the heartrending rotoscoped war meditation Waltz With Bashir ... More »

Kashkeshet

An experimental film in which hand-painted illustrations have been set to music, ... More »

Swanettes

Walking home from the grocery store, a mother and daughter begin their journey from silence to understanding. Rony Sasson's artisticallydistinctive drama won the DAAD prize at the 2006 Berlinale. ... More »

POLICEMAN

"A boldly conceived and bracingly told political drama, Policeman possesses a special contemporary pertinence… to the vast class and economic disparities in Israel." - Hollywood Reporter ... More »

HILL 24 DOESN'T ANSWER

To one of the foothills dominating the approach to Jerusalem are to come four Israeli volunteers. Their leader has ordered them to defend this Hill 24 against the Arabs until morning when the ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director