Makhmalbaf puts an advertisement in the papers calling for an open casting for his next movie. However when hundreds of people show up, he decides to make a movie about the casting and the screen tests of the would-be actors.
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Salaam Cinema goes further than most other Iranian meta-films in exposing the deceits built into filmmaking. One can dismiss the whole premise as a planned gimmick, but it is to Makhmalbaf's credit that he lets us question his motivations too.
I inherently do not trust Makhmalbaf, and I don't think he wants us to. Salaam Cinema is a nosedive into the murky waters of the definition of truth--is acting truth? Are emotions truth? Are films truth? Is THIS film truth? At one point he poses a question to a man: if he were directing a film, would he cast Makhmalbaf as the good or bad guy? "The bad guy," the man says. The proceeding shot is the film distilled.
so many parts in this made me cry. the rawness of iranian films make so much sense after this audition process. i did read somewhere that the entire audition was acted out but i don't think i care if that's true or not. these humans were brilliant whether it was their real feelings or acted out feelings. they're all humane artists.