Abbas Kiarostami (22 June 1940 – 4 July 2016)
And so we say goodbye to yet another iconic figure from the world of movie making. As if 2016 hasn’t been bad enough so far, to lose Abbas Kiarostami as well is like being kicked in the stomach while you’re already on the floor. Kiarostami wasn’t just one of the most influential figures in Iranian film – if not the most – he was also one of the most influential figures in film worldwide, an artist who prompted Jean-Luc Godard to say, “Film begins with D.W. Griffith and ends with Abbas Kiarostami.”
He began his career at the age of thirty after having set up a film section at Tehran’s Centre for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults. He made his first movie, a short called Nan va Koutcheh (The Bread and Alley) in 1970, and continued his career during the Seventies by making an eclectic mix of short movies, features and documentaries. As he developed and refined his style, his movies became more and more minimal. Kiarostami kept stripping away everything he felt was extraneous or unnecessary, until he had the essence of the story he wanted to tell. Audiences across the globe began to connect with his movies with the release of Close-Up (1990), a mesmerising treatise on life and art and the blurring that often occurs at the boundaries of these two elements.
From there he went from strength to strength, his movies often appearing to great acclaim at film festivals around the world, while in Iran, they were largely ignored by the authorities, his way of reflecting Iranian social attitudes apparently providing little enticement for them to interfere or complain. Thus free of the constraints that have affected fellow movie makers such as Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rousolof, Kiarostami was able to make the movies he wanted to make, and his continued success, along with critical approbation, made the release of his movies something to anticipate and cherish. He often worked without a script and was keen to improvise, and he also enjoyed crafting performances from non-actors, using their inexperience to capture a more realistic mise-en-scene. His last work, the documentary Venice 70: Future Reloaded, was released in 2013. He leaves behind an impressive body of work, and the grateful thanks of movie goers around the world who have been captivated by his simple yet telling way of movie making, and the wholly human worlds he’s invited us into over the years.
1 – The Report (1977)
2 – Where Is the Friend’s Home? (1987)
3 – Close-Up (1990)
4 – Through the Olive Trees (1994)
5 – Taste of Cherry (1997)
6 – The Wind Will Carry Us (1999)
7 – Ten (2002)
8 – 10 on Ten (2004)
9 – Shirin (2008)
10 – Certified Copy (2010)