In 1995, Mohsen Makhmalbaf posted a casting call in Iranian newspapers to find actors for a film about the centenary of cinema. Thousands of people showed up. “We’ve already started shooting,” the director informs the endless crowd. “We will select about a hundred of you and some will get leading roles in the film. You are both the subject and the actors of this film. So I’d just like to welcome you to your own film.”
As an enlightened despot he interviews the eager candidates, ordering them to cry within 10 seconds, laugh or dance. People who are normally quiet and suspicious in their everyday lives answer the most intimate questions here; others don’t shy away from manipulating the truth. It demonstrates the mystique of cinema, which seems to create a separate place beyond reality. The wannabe actors surrender to the man they think can determine their fate, not knowing that their part in the film will be the role they are playing here. An intriguing game with the boundaries between fact and fiction unfolds on both sides of the table, providing insight into the psychology of power and submission.