Abbas Kiarostami, Iranian Film Maker (1940-Present)

Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said: ‘I don't choose a subject; it's the subject that chooses me’. The same goes for me. The subject depends on whatever happens to be keeping me awake at night... I have dozens of stories stored away in my memory. There's a story happening in front of me every day, but I don't have the time to make a film out of it. In the course of time, certain stories start taking on importance; one of them will end up becoming the subject of a film” – Abbas Kiarostami

My first Kiarostami film was Taste of Cherry, which I watched on DVD some time ago. Prior to that, I had been a bit wary, given the constant praise by often-suspect critical voices. However, a former professor was preparing a class on Iranian film and insisted I start paying attention. I was immediately hooked, and haven’t looked back since. Kiarostami is one of the smartest and most interesting voices in international film. His films induce self-examination, encourage involvement in the life of community and promote a deeply felt love of humanity. I realize that this list may sound a bit corny, and perhaps even like a Boy Scouts stag film, but the purity and simple pleasure in his work that is difficult to translate into words.

Born and raised in Tehran, Iran, Kiarostami founded a film program at the Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults. For about fifteen years he made children’s films, and the experience left an indelible mark on his career thereafter. He approaches his subjects with a youthful curiosity and makes no assumptions about what things mean or who people are. The films usually appear fairly simple; narrative is not a driving force. However, as meditation pieces, one can usually find some small reflection, a curiosity, meaning. Not meaning in the Hollywood sense, like a message picture, but meaning in a non-didactic, personal way. And if you get bored (many do), Kiarostami recognizes the pacing of the films and says, “at the very least I would like to provide my audience with a good nap.”

Recommended Titles:
Ten (2002)
The Wind Will Carry Us (1999)
Taste of Cherry (1997)
Under The Olive Tree (1994)
Life and Nothing More (1991)
Close-Up (1990)
Where Is The Friend’s House? (1987)

Kiarostami movies are often difficult to find on video and DVD. If your local vendors are unable to help, try for a better selection.

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