Title   Cast   Director   Year Shown  Other Info    Country  Notes 

Iran, 1995, 75 min

Shown in 1996


Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Abbas Randjbar
Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Mahamoud Kalari
Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Azadeh Zangeneh, Maryam Keyhan, Feyzolah Ghashghi, Shaghayegh Djodat


MK2 Diffusion
Salam Cinema

The famous Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf places a casting ad for 100 actors in a Tehran newspaper. Five thousand people show up and a riot ensues. Nearly everyone, it seems, wants to be a movie star (although one woman says she merely wants to go to Cannes for free). The director holds screen tests; and several dozen people sing, dance or show off altogether stranger talents. Some think they look like Paul Newman or Marilyn Monroe. The applicants—funny, brash and utterly touching—are a vivid array of people—intellectuals, students, children and, above all, women—whose lives would not normally emerge from the shadows in this way. Like many Iranian films, Salam Cinema blurs the line between fiction and documentary (it’s not even clear whether the auditions themselves were scripted). Director Mohsen Makhmalbaf plays himself in a wry, deft performance that walks a tightrope between fact and fiction. In a bravura display of personal and political self-analysis, he portrays an enlightened despot who plays with the wishes of the people. Without exception, the would-be stars talk about the important place of cinema in everyday life, as well as about their own lives. Salam Cinema, intended by the director as an homage to cinema on its centenary, is a sly and captivating look at film and life in a country seldom seen from the inside.