In 1989 an incident happened in the prosperous suburbs of North Tehran that inspired the making of a movie. The movie took exactly 40 days to shoot, edit and then release and had no functioning script. It may be the most amazing movie you will ever see, (if you have not seen it already) and could be the best 97 minutes you could spend this Sunday weekend.
The reason why the movie is unique is because EVERY single person in the movie that you see are playing themselves, as themselves; and none of them are professional actors. Although the Director, Abbas Kiarostami, spent every night planning out a sequence of events as to how he wanted to shoot a scene and the story he wanted that scene to convey, he found that during the actual shooting the next day, it was impossible as every participant had objections to how they were portrayed or they disagreed with what their lines should be (as in “that was not exactly what he said and this is what actually happened”).
The final end-product is the brutal honesty with which they presented themselves. Notes from the Underground painted on a screen perhaps.
Nema-ye Nazdik, which was translated as Close-Up for the American Audience, was released in 1990, 30 years ago. It has, since, come to define Asian Cinema and is just unique.
You can ofcourse search the internet and get a full detailed report on the movie but unless you see it you will not appreciate how a story can be told by actual live footage seamlessly blended in with scenes that required re-takes and rehearsals. The editing is also sublime and is just a work of genius in itself.
It is a story, just as every one of us has a story. It is a story about ourselves; what compels us; what even drives us to do what do and persist in doing it. It is also a story of forgiveness and also of being conned. Are we cheating our ownselves as we go through our lives; or as Janet Jackson would say; “Whose Zoomin Who?” Are we searching for glory and grasp the first seeming opportunity that comes along; or are we (on the other hand), leading the gullible by the nose.
Are we acting out our own lives as scenes that polite, intellectual society expect us to play, uttering buzzwords to show how our heart bleeds for the less fortunate from the comfort of our AirConditioned Bedrooms; and are those same less fortunate looking for an opportunity to play on our conscience to seek an advantage to help lift themselves, somewhat, out of the unremitting shame of their indignity and poverty.
I leave you to decide but I can guarantee this movie will make you think about yourself and how you view yourself within society. Sabzian, the man on whom this movie is based, died in 2002 in the Tehran Metro on his way to meeting the Director for a Re-Union of sorts and Kiarostami is also no longer with us.
What is more touching is the second video which is Kluzup Nema-ye Dur or Close Up in Long Shot, where Sabzian says that everyone is using everyone else to further their own image of themselves. We are all leeching off each other, projecting our own selves.
The second video starts with an interview given by the Director where he talks about the making of Nema-ye Nazdik, (which perhaps could have translated better as Viewing Up Close).
I wish you all the best. Today happens to be my 56th BirthDay and I would like to think of this as a Reverse BirthDay Present where I offer a Gift to anyone reading this, of something spectacular. In a world where everything is monetised by Corporatists, this movie is still available to watch for free.
Credit goes to my wife who told me about this movie. We are both stuck 5000 miles apart in a Lockdown which seems never ending; trying to make sense of what our lives have become. Painting our own stories in our own minds as it were.
You will have to click on the link below to my blog where the 2 videos have been uploaded. I hope you would take the time to watch them both.
Supratim Barman, MSc – Queen Mary – University of London. Kolkata, The Republic of India. I live between the two extreme edges of what was the British Empire, in the vast and important cities of Kolkata and London; with the midpoint being where I was born and where I grew up, Bahrain: observing and experiencing events in a time of great change.