Panahi is under house arrest, awaiting the result of his appeal of a six-year prison sentence and twenty-year ban on film-making, leaving the country or giving media interviews for "propaganda against the regime". Bored and desperate that this verdict may mean his artistic death, he starts documenting his life. He begins filming himself in his apartment, then calls his friend and collaborator, Mirtahmasb, who arrives at the apartment and takes over the camera. Banned from film making and determined to save at least some of his artistic visions, Panahi reads some of the scenario from the movie he was planning to make. Upon hearing fireworks marking the ancient Iranian festival Chaharshanbe Suri that precedes the Persian new year, Nouruz, and other suspicious noises resembling gunshots, he gets scared and quickly stops this project. He turns on the TV to hear the news. We see news about the tsunami in Japan and later it is announced that Iran's president has banned any fireworks and bonfires that used to mark Chaharshanbe Suri.
After Mr. Mirtahmasb's departure, Panahi takes his friend's camera and starts chatting with the boy who collects the litter in the apartment block since one of his relatives was not able to come that day, Panahi asks him questions about his life and plans for the future. This conversation takes places in the claustrophobic scenery of a lift, as the boy goes down from floor to floor and every so often gets out of the lift to do his job. The movie ends with the boy putting the trash can out on the street, as revelers throw gasoline on a fire. While Panahi watches and shoots video from the ramp leading down to his building's underground garage (as far, it seems, as he dare go), the boy jumps over the fire taking part in the celebration.
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