Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s ‘Salaam Cinema’ is not just an ode to the medium but also a reflection of it

Posted on July 18, 2019


Read the full article on Firstpost, here:

In 1895, the Lumière brothers, in Paris, held the first paid public screening of 10 short films, including the now-famous Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory. A hundred years later, Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf dreamed up a novel way to celebrate the centenary of this new medium. Salaam Cinema (1995) is about a director holding auditions for a film he wants to make, and the opening stretch hints at his intentions. At first, the camera is the audience, looking through the windshield of a car, sweeping (invisibly) through roads, past rows of aspirants. Then, the gaze changes. We now see a man seated on top of this car, holding a camera. Makhmalbaf is laying bare the mechanics, the artifice of the medium. He’s looking at both the people who will be in the movie and the people who will make it – including himself. The director holding auditions – that’s Makhmalbaf himself.

We are at the location. An assistant yells “Stay in line,” as he passes a woman in a chador, a little girl wearing sunglasses, a man in a Nike T-shirt – but these individualities soon vanish as a sea of people fills the frame. You may be reminded of the surging throngs outside the mansions of Amitabh Bachchan or Shah Rukh Khan. Speaking into a loudspeaker, Makhmalbaf says, “We are making a film about those who’d like to become film actors. We’ve already started shooting. Some of you will be chosen to act. You came here because of the ad in the press. But there are too many of you. So please stay in order so that my assistants can hand out a thousand forms. We will select about a hundred of you and some will get leading roles in the film. You are both the subject and the actors of this film. So I’d just like to welcome you to your own film.”

Continued at the link above.

Copyright ©2019 Firstpost.