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SALAAM CINEMA

Iran, 1995 (MIFF 1996, Contemporary World Cinema )

Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf

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 IMonroe. 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 birthday card out of the auditions for film. Witty and slyly resonant, the simple remise turns into a reflexive treat" Godfrey Cheshire. Variety

See also...

THE AFGHAN ALPHABET

Moshen Makhmalbaf's feature films have long followed the Iranian tradition of blurring the line between fact and fiction. His 2001 film, Kandahar, documented one woman's heartbreaking journey through ... More »

GABBEH

... ... A ... ... ... According to many observers (your humble servant and Werner Herzog amongst them), cinema is alive and well in two countries: China and Iran. Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Gabbeh is ... More »

THE SILENCE

Khorshid is a ten year old blind boy who lives alone with his mother. He uses his exceptional hearing to bring extra cash into a needy household that subsists on his mother's fishing. Khorshid ... More »

ONCE UPON A TIME, CINEMA

Once Upon a Time, Cinema almost defies description, as the complexity and imagi­nation director Makhmalbaf brings to it pro­duces a dazzling visual roilercoaster, which sweeps the viewer ... More »

A MOMENT OF INNOCENCE

The lyrical and spare storytelling that Makhmalbaf applied in Gabbeh (MIFF 1996) is utilised again to tell another personal story, this time it is the director's own, told from two differ­ent ... More »

THE WHITE BALLOON

... ... Much to everyone's surprise, fundamentalist hard-line Iran has been pioving that humanist cinema is alive and thriving for at least a decade now To established names like Kiarostami ... More »

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