The face to face encounter of art and law: Abbas kiarostami's close-Up

Cristina Vatulescu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The title of this article is taken from Abbas Kiarostami's commentary on his 1990 film Close-Up (Nema-ye Nazdik), one of the most memorable meditations on the medium of film andits relationship to the law. Kiarostami's commentary posits cinema's approach to the human subject to be superior to that of the law in its ability to defer judgment while allowing a close-up approach to the subject-an approach that, he wagers, can ultimately not only just(ly) represent but also transform that subject. However, an attentive reading of the movie itself complicates the easy dichotomy between law and art, nuancing their differences and showing the legal and artistic approaches to the human subject to be entangled, nowhere more closely than in the charged stylistic and ethical choice of the close-up itself. This essay follows the movie's complex interrogation of that encounter between law, art, and its subject. In the process, we see Kiarostami redefine cinema as a medium whose primary task is precisely to mediate: between law and its subjects, as between people and their clashing fantasies. To be able to do this, however, the film itself is transformed by the encounter with the law and its subject, opening the way for a new type of documentary filmmaking-not just antimimetic, but blatantly minterventionist, interpersonal and interactive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-194
Number of pages22
JournalLaw and Literature
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • Abbas
  • Close-Up
  • Documentary
  • Freeze-frame
  • Kiarostami
  • Law and cinema
  • Mug shot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'The face to face encounter of art and law: Abbas kiarostami's close-Up'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this