Sabzian refers to the main character of the 1990 film Nema-ye nazdik [Close-Up], by the Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami.
Based upon a peculiar news story Kiarostami stumbled upon, the film follows an unemployed youth from Teheran called Hossein Sabzian, as he convinces an entire family that he is the well-known filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf. After he is arrested for fraud and brought to trial, the family eventually pardons him, as, possessing not the slightest of criminal intent, it was Sabzian’s love for cinema that drove him to appropriate the filmmaker’s identity. Using the very people that were involved, Kiarostami re-enacts these events, placing his re-staging in opposition to the images of Sabzian’s trial.
A continuously shifting dialectic ensues: how does cinema relate to our lives? What is real? Is every fiction necessarily a lie? Thoughtfully, the film’s gaze is directed inward. Close-Up is an ode to cinema and to life. It is the cinematic equivalent of staring into one mirror positioned in front of another: each reality is contained within an even broader reality, as if the spectator were forced to look into a tunnel of continuously shifting truths.
Is not Sabzian’s image that of the true cinephile, prying his way into reality through cinema – at times merging completely with the prism that is film? As the American filmmaker Frank Capra once put it: “Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream, it takes over as the number one hormone; it bosses the enzymes; directs the pineal gland; plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to film is more film.”
This website aims to be a cinephile’s guide for Belgium and its surroundings, offering a mainly Dutch language platform for writing on cinema and image culture.
Its agenda is an often incomplete, yet always personal guide, shunning material replicated elsewhere in favour of seeking out that which occasionally goes unnoticed. Supporting a network of events, screenings and exhibitions that share and reveal the potential outlines of a cinephile fabric, averse to the tyranny of the new, well clear of the scorching focus of popular attention.
Another film by Kiarostami from 1987 asks the question: Where is My Friend’s House? This house is always further down the road, on the horizon, but along the way there are other places to shelter, to sojourn: Sabzian wishes to be such a place – a house between houses, because all too often the house of cinema is boarded up, preventing entry.
Sabzian wishes to be thought in movement. A slow, considered pace, mid-step – one foot on the ground, the other in the air. Writing as an inward movement, as an endless encounter with images, sounds, thoughts and worlds.