Abbas Kiarostami's career in film began at the Center for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults at the age of 30. He has since written, directed, edited, and produced over 30 shorts, features, and documentaries that have won acclaim both at home and abroad. Kiarostami has gained so much international praise that he decided to stop entering his films for competition at festivals because he believed that he had won enough awards (at least 46 prizes since 1970). Throughout his career, Kiarostami has taken on many assistant directors that have gone on to see success as directors in their own right, often making their debuts directing a script penned by Kiarostami. Among others, Kiarostami has helped start the careers of such directors as Ebrahim Forouzesh, Iraj Karimi, Jafar Panahi, Ali Reza Raisian, and Bahman Ghobadi.
24 Frames dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (2017, 114 min., Iran)
The final film from Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami is a wordless series of sketches elaborating on his lifelong fascination with photography. Consisting of 24 four-and-a-half minute sketches—each a digitally manipulated, fixed-frame view of a scene from nature—24 Frames allows the late Kiarostami to evoke the moments before and after a still image has been captured, and to explore the thin line between natural and artificial beauty. Largely absent of humans, and alternating between color and black-and-white, these poetic miniatures gradually come to life with subtlety, giving rise to the poignant and mysterious possibilities of the moving image.
Like Someone in Love dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (2012, 109 min., France/Japan) In Japanese with English subtitles
Like Someone in Love revolves around the brief encounter between an elderly professor (the wonderful 81-year-old stage actor Tadashi Okuno, here playing his first leading role in a film) and a sociology student (Rin Takanashi) who moonlights as a high-end escort. Dispatched to the old man by her boss—one of the professor’s former students—the young woman finds her latest client less interested in sex than in cooking her soup, talking, and playing old Ella Fitzgerald records (like the one that gives the film its allusive title). Eventually, night gives way to day and a tense standoff with the student’s insanely jealous boyfriend (Ryō Kase); but as usual in Kiarostami, nothing is quite as it appears on the surface.
Certified Copy dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (2010, 106 min., France/Italy) In English
Juliette Binoche won the Best Actress prize in Cannes for her performance in this playful and provocative romantic drama from legendary auteur Abbas Kiarostami, his first feature made outside of Iran. Binoche plays a gallery owner living in a Tuscan village who attends a lecture by a British author (opera star William Shimell) on authenticity and fakery in art. Afterward, she invites him on a tour of the countryside, during which he is mistaken for her husband. They keep up the pretense and continue on their afternoon out, discussing love, life and art, and increasingly behaving like a long-married couple. But are they play-acting on a whim or is there more to their seemingly new relationship than meets the eye?
Shirin dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (2008, 92 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
A vibrant, daringly original work from Abbas Kiarostami, SHIRIN is the flowering of an experimentalist streak that’s been evident in many of the director’s most well-known features. Ostensibly an adaptation of a 12th century Persian poem about a young princess courted by two men, a nobleman and an artist, Kiarostami never shows us the film in question. Instead, we are compelled to reconstruct the narrative from dialogue and sound, and the emotions that flash across the faces of a rapt, mostly female audience. A movie about a movie we never see, SHIRIN makes us active participants in a unique cinematic experience.
The Wind Will Carry Us dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (1999, 118 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
A group of journalists pretending to be production engineers arrive in a Kurdish village to document the locals' mourning rituals that anticipate the death of an old woman, but she remains alive. The main engineer is forced to slow down and appreciate the lifestyle of the village.
Taste of Cherry dir. by Abbas Kiarostami 1997, 95 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry is an emotionally complex meditation on life and death. Middle-aged Mr. Badii (Homayoun Ershadi) drives through the hilly outskirts of Tehran-searching for someone to rescue or bury him.
Through the Olive Trees dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (1994, 103 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
A beautiful film by Abbas Kiarostami. Very sweet natured, full of warmth and humanity and shows that persistence in love may pay dividends. Kiarostami shot this film in the Northern part of Iran, the same region that he filmed the "Where's Friend's Home?" and "Life and Nothing More"
Life and Nothing More dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (1992, 95 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
After the earthquake of Guilan, the film director and his son, Puya, travel to the devastated area to search for the actors of the movie the director made there a few years ago, Khane-ye Doust Kodjast? (Where is the Friend's Home?) (1987). In their search, they found how people who had lost everything in the earthquake still have hope and try to live life to the fullest.
Close-Up dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (1990, 98 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
Internationally revered Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has created some of the most inventive and transcendent cinema of the past thirty years, and Close-up is his most radical, brilliant work. This fiction-documentary hybrid uses a sensational real-life event—the arrest of a young man on charges that he fraudulently impersonated the well-known filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf—as the basis for a stunning, multi-layered investigation into movies, identity, artistic creation, and existence, in which the real people from the case play themselves. With its universal themes and fascinating narrative knots, Close-up has resonated with viewers around the world.
Where is the Friend's Home? dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (1987, 83 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
As he prepares to do his homework, Ahmed realizes that he accidentally brought home a notebook belonging to one of his classmates. Knowing that his friend may be expelled if he does not have the notebook in order to complete his homework, Ahmed goes looking for his classmate.
First Case, Second Case dir. by Abbas Kiarostami 1979, 53 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
The film starts with this scenario; A teacher is drawing a diagram of an ear on the chalkboard with his back to the class; he is interrupted several times by the sound of a pen banging rhythmically against a desk. Each time he turns around, the noise stops, only to resume again. Finally, unable to pick out the culprit, the teacher tells the seven boys sitting in the corner of the room to leave the class. The students are given an ultimatum, which becomes the basis of the film. Kiarostami showed this film to the Shah's educational experts and filmed their opinions in 1979. Shooting was nearly complete when, on February 1, Ayatollah Khomeini arrived in Tehran from exile and 10 days later declared an Islamic republic. In 1981 then Kiarostami set about remaking the film, junking the commentaries and changing its structure. He decided he would make the film into a dramatized dilemma. First Case involved pupils refusing to name the guilty party, in Second Case one of the pupils names the culprit and is allowed to return to the classroom. All of the new observers, including the new education minister and members of political parties (Communist, Democratic National Front) were filmed commenting on the two cases. The film was banned after its premiere and disappeared from view for decades until June 2009 when it reappeared and became widely distributed on the web.
FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST