The stature of Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami (1940-2016) and his works had not only been widely adored by international audiences, but also, highly praised by film directors across the world. For instance, the Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa once said, “Words cannot describe my feelings about his films… When Satyajit Ray passed on I was very depressed. But after seeing Kiarostami’s films I thanked to God for giving us just the right person to take his place.” Likewise, French film director Jean-Luc Godard remarked, “Film begins with D.W. Griffith and ends with Abbas Kiarostami.”

Born in Tehran on 22 June 1940, Kiarostami was an accomplished artist and recognized as filmmaker, poet and painter. He started making a video for TV commercial before producing several films though in the difficult political condition. Prior to the 1979 Revolution, Kiarostami was a head of Iran’s Center for the Intellectual Development for Children and Young Adults (Kanoon), which produced educational short films for the youths. His feature Where is My Friend Home? (1987) launched social critiques cleverly with meticulous observation of the real socio-cultural conditions in Iran.  This film was part of the Koker trilogy, along with And Life Goes On (1992) and Through the Olive Three (1994). In particular, Kiarostami’s award-winning film Taste of Cherry brilliantly shows the fragility of life and finality of death. This is a philosophical and meditative sort of film dealing with perennial human questions. Moreover, Close-Up (1990) is a meta-cinematic masterpiece of Kiarostami that meditated on film and filmmakers blurring the lines between fact and fiction, art and life.

As it is well known, the humanist sensibility with political subtleties has been a distinctive mark of Kiarostami’s films.  Working under the strict film censorship in Iran, Kiarostami has made remarkable works dealing with universal human problems. Furthermore, Kiarostami’s films are evidence of his visual acuity and uncanny sensitivity to other people. The great skill of Kiarostami was taking moments—scenes or images—that feel familiar and transforming them into something charged, poetic, mysterious and finally quite beautiful. Unsurprisingly, his works have strong appeal and resonate to the global audiences.

In his entire career, Kiarostami has produced at least 40 films comprising features, documentaries and shorts, which are mostly made in Iran. But his last few films were shot outside Iran with non-Iranian actors, such as Certified Copy (2010) starred by French famous actress Juliette Binoche which was shot in Italy, Like Someone In Love (2012) shot in Japan and he reportedly planned to make a film in China. Therefore, in order to pay a tribute to Abbas Kiarostami, Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival (JAFF) will be screening Kiarostami’s last film Take Me Home (2016) that was shot in south Italy exploring the different landscapes in that area.

Furthermore, JAFF will also be showing a wonderful documentary on Abbas Kiarostami entitled 76 Minutes 25 Seconds With Abbas Kiarostami directed by Saifollah Samadian. The title of this documentary refers to the exact age of Kiarostami: 76 years and 25 days. This intimate documentary captured rare moments, which looked like “behind the scenes” features, but it also shown what Kiarostami’s work method in making his films.

We believe this program will be a reminiscent of the greatness of Kiarostami and his beautiful works.

This article is first appeared in the catalog of The 11th Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival (28 November-03 December 2016)

Image source: sensesofcinema.com

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