by Ken Korman
The heartrending real-life saga of banned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi continues to play out in public with his second illicit post-ban film, Closed Curtain. Like Panahi’s 2011 This Is Not a Film, Closed Curtain is a product of Panahi’s 20-year ban from filmmaking (along with a six-year prison sentence, which can be reactivated at any time) handed down by the Iranian government for “acting against national security and creating anti-regime propaganda.” Panahi lives in state-imposed limbo, unable to make films out in his community where he belongs. But the Iranian government has so far tolerated the small and defiant films he can make without leaving his home. Written by Panahi and co-directed with fellow Iranian filmmaker Kambuzia Partovi, Closed Curtain employs the interior of Panahi’s beach house on the Caspian Sea in Iran as its only setting. It begins in near-conventional narrative style but eventually slides into a surreal reflection of Panahi’s troubled psyche, a place where fictional characters quietly vie for his attention. It’s a deeply melancholy film, but one that seems to have Panahi’s continued survival at stake.
Closed Curtain begins an exclusive one-week run, tonight, July 25, at Zeitgeist Movies. More info here.