|Kiarostami's beautiful film is one of my new favorites.|
Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Produced by Ali Reza Zarrin
Written by Abbas Kiarostami
Starring Hossain Sabzian, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Abolfazi Ahankhah, Mehrdad Ahankhah and Hossain Farazmand
Plot Summary: Hossain Sabzian, an unemployed film lover, poses as Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf and faces trial for deceiving the Ahankhah family.
Significance: Often cited as Kiarostami's greatest film, it was featured in the latest Sight and Sound Poll (tied for #43 in the critics poll and #37 in the directors poll). The film only won a couple of awards at festivals in Istanbul and Montreal, but it has since become a very respected film by critics and cinephiles alike. Director Werner Herzog even called it "the greatest documentary on filmmaking I have ever seen."
Thoughts: Kiarostami's film does an excellent job of recreating the true events of this documentary, while incorporating actual footage from Sabzian's trial. The Ahankhah family members do a fine job in the reenactment scenes (playing themselves), as does Sabzian, who gives the standout "performance." Some of the best documentaries blur the lines between fact and fiction, and Kiarostami has managed to create an arresting film with a compelling narrative from this true story. Rarely have I been so engaged with a film, let alone a documentary. Though, the film doesn't feel like a typical documentary at all. Rather, it plays like a minimalist drama with a fascinating character study. If you've not experienced a Kiarostami film, this would be a wonderful starting point.