Abbas Kiarostami: his contribution to Iranian Cinema and the world

 

Abbas Kiarostami

Abbas Kiarostami, Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami has died in France at age 76, far from the lands which he said “essential” to his heart. His works influenced very much at least two generations of Iranian filmmakers. 

Mostly ignored by his compatriots for being too experimental and minimalists, he still rose to unequalled international fame. A fame, which made many people feel jealous about him. 

The Golden Palm for his 1997’s TASTE OF CHERRY is a good reminder he certainly brought back more trophies and glory to Iran, than any national soccer club of his country.

He thought that worldwide exposed countries would be much safer from attacks than the non-exposed. He quoted Iraq as an example, arguing that if there were so many non-relayed bombings, it was because so few people actually knew anything about that country. He added: “It is impossible to ignore Iranian community, since everybody knows about the people thanks to our Cinema”. 

Abbas Kiarostami

Abbas Kiarostami, Iranian film director Abbas Kiarsotami has died in France at age 76, far from the lands which he said “essential” to his heart. His works influenced very much at least two generations of Iranian filmmakers. 

Mostly ignored by his compatriots for being too experimental and minimalists, he still rose to unequalled international fame. A fame, which made many people feel jealous about him. 

The Golden Palm for his 1997’s TASTE OF CHERRY is a good reminder he certainly brought back more trophies and glory to Iran, than any national soccer club of his country.

He thought that worldwide exposed countries would be much safer from attacks than the non-exposed. He quoted Iraq as an example, arguing that if there were so many non-relayed bombings, it was because so few people actually knew anything about that country. He added: “It is impossible to ignore Iranian community, since everybody knows about the people thanks to our Cinema”. 

Abbas Kiarostami's specific style

Kiarostami’s cinema was quite unusual. His movies were often compared to Rosselini’s neo-realistic works for dealing about life, destruction and death. Like the Italian filmmaker, Kiarostami preferred to work with children and non-professional actors and dealt with rarely depicted aspects of life, such as death or open endings…He was a very secretive man. He didn’t like to share things. He observed life like an eagle from afar and nothing ever escaped his sight. He took his inspiration for his thoughts and – later on – scripts from other people’s life stories. 



Iranian youth vs his cinema 

He was the sole Iranian director to be regularly invited to worldwide festivals, before he gained International recognition with his WHERE IS THE FRIEND’S HOME (1987). This particular situation lasted for several years. Other Iranian filmmakers would eventually benefit from his success. He encouraged younger directors to imitate his style to access the International film circuit. But younger generations eventually chose their paths by depicting life in their own ways and inventing new cinematographic languages. When Kiarostami gained worldwide recognition, he eventually reached out to his followers. He spent much time with younger filmmakers and organized many workshops to teach them filmmaking. He was a man of great generosity and said to be very accessible to all demands and requests.

 

Kiarostami and world cinema 

EHis inspiration went way beyond his own country’s borders and his style can be found in many other cinematographic cultures, such as in Turkey.

He renewed world’s film lovers’ interest for Italian neo-realistic cinema and movies featuring children as main protagonists. He also encouraged the development of a cinma based upon minimalistic approach.

His experimental and documentary-like cinema has encouraged many directors to find new ways of filmmaking.

 

Why did he stop making movies in Iran?   

Kiarostami has never been exposed to censorship, but the country’s particular system made him do his last two movies CERTIFIED COPY (2010) and LIKE SOMEONE IN LIVE (2012) abroad.

When his movie LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE has been presented in official selection at Cannes Film Festival in 2012, he told me the reason why he chose to make his movie in another country:

I have encountered many difficulties to shoot a movie in Iran during the last years. I’m not talking about getting the permission to shoot a movie. It is rather easy to get a shooting permission, but that doesn’t guarantee you the movie’s distribution upon its completion. Many finished movies end up as if they never got any kind of filming permission. Producing a movie in Iran nowadays means taking the risk to start a long, unpredictable procedure.

A filmmaker might spend much time and energy and deploy important technical and financial structures without even knowing about the movie’s future issue. That’s why I stopped shooting movies in Iran and work abroad. It is some kind of voluntarily exile because of the current Iranian production conditions. My decision not to shoot any more movies in Iran could be seen as a protest reaction”.

Kiarostami compared himself to a fruit tree, capable to readapt to whatever place someone might want to replant it – but incapable to bear the same fruits as before.

During the last years, Abbas Kiarostami has been criticized by some intellectuals for not taken any clear position on political issues. They don’t seem to consider the filmmaker’s particular style and philosophical thoughts as a clear expression of his political concerns. 

Without even knowing his woks, Kiarostami’s Iranian compatriots understood his prominence and respected him for all he did for his country. This has been proven by his native country’s belated, but incredible tribute. He was a true artist, whose movies all went against American Cinema Culture.

Alas, one of the greatest filmmakers of modern times has been “carried away”, reminding the title of one of his best works to date, THE WIND WILL CARRY US (1999), which paid tribute to Iran’s most rebellious modern poetess Forough Farkhokhzad. 

Shahla Rostami, RFI journalist 

 

 Abbas Kiarostami

 Reuters/MaxRossi /File photo

 

 

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