THE ONE AND MULTIPLE ABBAS KIAROSTAMI

Curator's Note

The man who died on July 4 2016 was the great filmmaker who had been honoured by his peers, Akira Kurosawa and Martin Scorsese, Jean-Luc Godard and Quentin Tarantino. There is no better way to prove it than to watch The Traveller (1974), Through the Olive Trees (1995), The Taste of Cherry (1997), The Wind will Carry Us (1999) or Ten (2002). But he was also many other things. He was the one who, with a single film, opened the doors to the cinematic creativity of his country, Iran. The screening of Where Is the Friend’s Home? (1987) at Nantes 3 Continents and Locarno festivals, then its release in French theatres, then in many other countries, paved the way to recognition of not only his already long string of work, but to the discovery of Makhmalbaf, Jalili, Panahi… as well as his elders, like Merjui and Naderi. This happened at a moment when politicians, in Iran and abroad, united to present Iranians solely as violent Islamists and women in black chador. Kiarostami unveiled the beauty and the humanity of his fellow citizens in their ordinary life. He addressed essential ethical and political issues in accessible and moving ways. He reinvented for his time and place the best of the neo-realism heritage as well as introduced in filmmaking the influence of the Persian miniature. He never compromised with the aesthetic and ideological frame the Iranian regime tends to impose, though he refused to comment on it abroad in order to allow him to continue to make films where he belonged, his own country. And when he was finally forced to film abroad, he appropriately totally changed his way of filming, which was often misunderstood by lazy reviewers. He also offered film theory with cinematic means one of its most important works, Close-up (1990). Continuously exploring technical resources, he embodies at its best the typical early 21st Century phenomenon of intercourse between cinema and visual arts. Trained as a painter and graphic designer, he was also an immensely powerful photographer, who took the art of still and moving images to museum installations. And he was a wonderful poet, whose writings have been translated into 15 languages. But what he preferred to do was to teach. With very young children as well as with film students or scholars, he dedicated thousands of hours all over the world, to share his wisdom as well as his knowledge, and, as he would have said, to learn from sharing.

Comments

Shorna Pal's picture

Learning from Sharing

It is particularly wonderful to me that Abbas Kiarostami’s legacy to learn from sharing is being upheld by these contributions on In Media Res,specially in the current social climate of twitter, facebook and instagram. The word ‘share’ means something today, that filmmakers like Kiarostami were articulating through their work for many decades.

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