Case #1, Case #2 | Chicago Reader

Case #1, Case #2

Abbas Kiarostami’s 1979 documentary marks one of his first considerations of a theme that would become crucial to his work from the 1990s and on: the knotty relationship between cinema and real life. This begins with a short fictional sequence in which a high school student disrupts his class by banging on the underside of his desk; the teacher, uncertain of who made the noise, dismisses several boys, saying he won’t let them return until one of them identifies the culprit. Kiarostami shows the sequence to various people—including artists, religious leaders, and his colleagues at Iran’s Institute for the Intellectual Development of Youth—and asks them how they feel about one student’s decision to rat on his classmate. After collecting a range of responses (most of them critical of the snitch), the director repeats the process with a revised version of the sequence in which the punished students keep silent and remain out of class for a week. What emerges is a provocative meditation on ethics and collective responsibility. In Farsi with subtitles.

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