Directors: Jafar Panahi and Kamboziya Partovi, Iran
Closed Curtain portrays the creative restraints which bind the hands of artists living under government regulations. This filmmaker has been jailed for his film work and, since 2011, has been under house arrest for attempting to make a Smartphone film called This is Not a Film. We, as the audience, are waiting for the curtain to open but this may never happen since Iran has strict censorship laws and has to approve of every film which is allowed to be screened. From the moment that Closed Curtain begins, we can feel those restrictions, not to mention fear and paranoia. An unknown screen writer arrives at a secluded villa on the Caspian Sea. He is watching every step he makes and wants no one to know that he is staying there. This film actually is a play and has only three stages: up and down stairs, in the villa and the ocean by the villa. There are several characters in the film but they represent different aspects of the filmmaker who is suffering. One of these characters is a dog which at one point disappears, but before that happens, we see a television newscast explaining how dogs are unwanted and unclean creatures which are not allowed to be kept and in fact should be destroyed since they are an offense to Allah. The film moves into surrealistic view with characters disappearing and then reappearing. The film had been written on a scholarly level, so it needs to be seen several times in order to fully understand all the hidden meanings. Who knows if and when we will see this film in the cinema but I hope that I will be given that chance.
Jafar Panahi won the Silver Bear for his screen play and was not allowed to come for the Berlin film festival to receive it. The Iranian government also showed its displeasure, when the Berlinale praised Jafar Panahi’s older film The White Balloon which also hadn’t been given government approval. Kambuzia Parovi accepted the award for Panahi. He and the lead actress Maryam Maghadam had planned to continue to promote this film in its journey with the next location being the Hong Kong Film Festival, but they have now had their passports confiscated and will not be leaving the country.
One can only applaud these people who have taken great risks trying to do their creative work despite the restrictions which try to hold them back. It is hard for those of us living in countries without severe censorship to imagine it. However, this makes it all the more important for us to support people like Jafar Panahi and Kamboziya Partovi who are trying to make changes happen by conveying an important statement. We have it easy, all we have to do is go and see their film even if we don’t understand it completely. (Shelly S.)