A dense and subtle masterpiece from Iran (1990, 97 min.) by Abbas Kiarostami (Taste of Cherry), this documentary—or is it pseudodocumentary?—follows the trial of an unemployed film buff in Tehran who impersonated acclaimed filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf and became intimate with a well-to-do family while pretending to prepare a film that was to feature them. Kiarostami persuades all the major people involved to reenact what happened, finally bringing the real Makhmalbaf together with his impersonator for a highly emotional exchange. Much of the implicit comedy here comes from the way "cinema" changes and inflects the value and nature of everything—the original scam, the trial, the documentary Kiarostami is making. Werner Herzog has called this the greatest of all documentaries about filmmaking, and he may not be far off—if only because no other film does more to interrogate certain aspects of the documentary form itself. In Farsi with subtitles.
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