Mohsen Makhmalbaf

In Salaam Cinema, veteran Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf places an ad in a newspaper calling for one hundred actors to act in a film that he wants to make to celebrate the 100th anniversary of cinema. The rest is a unique cinema experience: an audition with dozens of enthusiastic men and women turning to the camera to talk about their motivation for being in this film – an incredible mirror into contemporary Iran.

The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear by Tinatin Gurchiani carries a similar ethnographic richness in portraying today’s Georgia, itself undergoing a transformation as it leaves behind its Soviet past and transitions to a modern state – through the eyes of its youth.

Returning home in autumn 2011 following several years in Germany, Gurchiani decides to make a film, for which she announces her decision to cast young people. Thus begins a series of auditions, in a poetic setting, surrounded by pastel-colored, decaying walls, around which Gurchiani structures her film.

From lovely Teona, who comes to the audition on her wedding day, to construction worker Jemal, who believes he would make a good Jean-Claude Van Damme double, and over a dozen intriguing characters that take turns in front of the camera to talk about their past, present, dreams and disappointments. We follow some of these characters as dramatic events unfold around their families and surroundings. Their vulnerability makes them almost transparent in the eyes of the spectators: they are shy, pensive, and at times monosyllabic. Yet in their hesitance lies a certain eagerness to tell their stories out loud, perhaps for the first time ever.

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