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Review: Closed Curtain

Ken Korman on Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s latest drama



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 in the community where he belongs. But the Iranian government has so far tolerated the small and defiant films he makes 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 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 vie quietly for his attention. It's a deeply melancholy film, but one that seems to have Panahi's continued survival at heart.

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