Iranian director Bahman Farmanara hasn't been allowed to make a movie in his country for 23 years. He's earned a living doing foreign documentaries and television, but ever since the Islamic Revolution, each script he's submitted to government censors for approval (a prerequisite in Iran) has been rebuffed.

Then he came to them with a black comedy about a filmmaker whose repressive government hasn't green-lighted any of his movies for two decades, and for some reason they gave it the thumbs-up.

The result is "Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine," a meditative, shrewdly humorous farce that features Bahman playing a fictionalized version of himself as he becomes obsessed with mortality in the wake of some weird close encounters with death.

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