“Close-Up not only speaks to us of the human need for dreams and the cinema’s enormous power of fascination; the film also introduces a damaged character, who pretends to be someone else in order to regain his own self-respect. Kiarostami is very clear on this point. ‘The main issue raised by the film is the need that people feel, whatever their material circumstances, for respect and social recognition […] Ultimately, what the film is dealing with is the difference between the “ideal self” and the “real self”; the greater the difference, the more unbalanced the person.’ To want to be someone else—a feeling that the film-maker confesses to knowing well, which undoubtedly justifies speaking of autobiographical elements in the film—has little or nothing to do with playing a game, in this context. Sabzian is a weak and pathetic character who tries to escape the frustrations of his life by making an unusual bid for integration into a society that excludes him. That is why his question (his plea, really) to Kiarostami when the director visits him in prison is simply: ‘Could you make a film about my suffering?’”
— Alberto Elena, The Cinema of Abbas Kiarostami
"It was really bizarre, that Sabzian business. You know I had no interest in being photographed before this incident. But then not just Sabzian—many other people started pretending they were me! One of them actually got married while pretending he was me! My face became publicly recognizable soon after I decided to have a few photographs of me available in public to prevent these sorts of identity thefts. It is really pathetic, if you think of it. Filmmakers and filmmaking is so popular in Iran because all other forms of expression have been denied to people."
— Mohsen Makhmalbaf
"Whenever I see a film, I ‘dissolve’ myself in it to such an extent that I reach the bottom. I fade out and perhaps… I get lost in it. And this has played an essential role in my life. Cinema is important to me. It’s like a prism. A good film is part of my life. With every good film I see, I feel reborn. It feels as if I made it myself, as if it were my creation. I identify with the director. I identify with the actors. I feel attuned and in harmony with the atmosphere of the film. I feel as if it’s my story. That’s how films carry me away. That’s why they’ve become my obsession. […] When it was all over, and I reentered society, I felt people’s eyes on me. Narrow-minded people who talked about everything but my enthusiasm for the movies. What I did wasn’t minor—tell the whole world about it—but that irrational act proved my love for film. I’m satisfied because I made one of my dreams come true. I was Makhmalbaf for four days. I remember Orson Welles’s advice to his students who wondered how to find the money for their films. ‘Steal it,’ he said. ‘At least you’ll fulfill your hopes.’"
— Hossein Sabzian