Sabzian is an online film platform dedicated to fostering and contributing to a lively and profound film culture. Averse to projected certainties, Sabzian aims to think seriously about cinema as part of a constant history of forms and fictions. Founded in 2014 by a group of young filmmakers, Sabzian has now developed into a collective of filmmakers, authors, lecturers, film critics and researchers, themselves reinforced by a growing group of avid cinephiles. Its multilingual website, www.sabzian.be, stands at the heart of the operation, offering platforms for a variety of writings on cinema: new texts and translations, essays and more poetic reflections, letters and poems, interviews and older, unpublished, or hard to trace texts, both by established filmmakers and novices. The Sabzian website also hosts an agenda focused on film screenings and related events in Belgium and surrounding areas. The synergy between the website, publications, (self-organised) screenings and events and its collaboration with other film organisations and educational institutions grounds a cinephile community for today. Sabzian was conceived out of a firm belief in the necessary combination of filmmaking, the viewing of films and writing about film. The very act of writing about cinema fosters a conversation about cinema, offers us a way of relating to cinema, of sharing cinema, and thus of seeing cinema in all its variations.
The name Sabzian refers to the main character of the 1990 film Close-Up by the Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. Based on a curious news story Kiarostami stumbled upon, the film follows an unemployed youngster from Teheran called Hossein Sabzian as he convinces an entire family that he is the well-known filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf. After he is arrested for fraud and brought to trial, the family eventually pardons him due to his lack criminal intent – after all, it was Sabzian’s love for cinema that drove him to appropriate the filmmaker’s identity. Is not Sabzian’s image that of the true cinephile, prying his way into reality through cinema – at times merging completely with the prism that is film?