Shocking documentary about film-crazy Iranians who reveal all in a sham audition. If Kiarostami is the Rafael of Iranian Film, then Makhmalbaf is the Michelangelo.
A well-known Iranian film-maker, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, wants to make a film about the centenary of cinema. He puts an ad in the paper to get one hundred actors. In preparation he has had 1,000 registration forms printed, but 5,000 people turn up. This leads to a riot and people are trampled underfoot and injured. Makhmalbaf then holds screen-tests with several dozen people. Their arguments - alternative between funny and moving - provide an insight into the reality of Iran. The film's director makes it possible for us to see and understand intellectuals, students, children and above all women who would not normally be seen. In Salaam Cinema Makhmalbaf moves in the very shadowy area between documentary and fiction. The actors are amateurs, but not all of them, and the film is improvised, but not entirely. Everyone thinks they can be a star, the actors dance, sing and sometimes do even stranger things. The director portrays the director in the film as an enlightened despot, who plays with the wishes of the people - a self-analysis which involves both personal and political aspects. The form of the film is related to the impressive work of Abbas Kiarostami, and especially his Homework. The persistent questioning by the director, like an interrogation, and the cold registrations of it make the film both funny and oppressive.