Abbas Kiarostami’s 1990 film Close-Up is an inventive and engrossing experience that challenges the delineations of documentary and film. The story it tells is a true one: Hossein Sabzian, a poor man in Tehran, convinces a well-to-do family that he is actually famous Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf and that he wants to use their home for his next film. After Sabzian is found out and the story is reported in a local magazine, Kiarostami quickly begins filming.
What develops is a movie that blurs the lines of documentary and narrative so well they are often indistinguishable. Kiarostami receives permission to film the courtroom while the trial is underway and then proceeds to question Sabzian on his artistic motives alongside the mullah judge questioning his criminal ones.
Kiarostami then takes everything one step further and portrays reenactments of the events leading up to and following Sabzian’s imprisonment and trial; with everyone from Sabzian, to the family he fooled, to the director he impersonated playing themselves. What emerges is a beautiful musing on film and its ability to both blur and cross lines.