Salaam Cinema

Salaam Cinema ★★★★½

Mohsen Makhmalbaf just gaslights people for an hour and I love it.

Truly an impressive and all-encompassing investigation of artistic humanity and truthfulness, Salaam Cinema is yet another meta-Iranian film that expertly balances the line between reality and fiction.

Everyone is desperate for a role, hordes of people are pushing through a small opening, crushing others in the process. All this for the opportunity to audition for a part. People wait in a line outside, they straighten up when they see the camera, some run alongside the frame, desperately trying to garner more screen time. Within all of this lies the question, is it worth it? 

Makhmalbaf investigates this question by further expanding the question: Is art worth this lack of humanity? Is it worth the callousness, the impurity (on and off-screen), the viscousness, the aggression? Is it possible to remain humane in the pursuit of art? And in this search, is it possible to maintain honesty within oneself and within the project as a whole?

The end of the film is signaled by a clapper with the words “To Be Continued” because these questions will never be answered so long as films are made and cinema is alive.