Tribute to Abbas Kiarostami (1940 – 2016)

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By Nima Khorramrooz

Abbas Kiarostami, eminent Iranian film-maker award-winning film-maker has died, having had cancer, aged 76. Kiarostami was the only Iranian director to ever be awarded the prestigious Palme d’Or.

Kiarostami was born in Tehran in 1940. He majored in painting and graphic design at Tehran University and worked with many advertising agencies, designing posters and illustrating children’s books.

In 1970, he joined the Centre for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults where he made his first film Bread and the Alley, which tells the story of little boy’s confrontation with an angry dog.

Kiarostami stayed in Iran after the Islamic revolution in 1979 and made more than 40 films. He began to gain international recognition soon after the release of his 1987’s film Where Is The Friend’s Home? This film is among the British Film Institute’s list of 50 films should see by the age of 14.

Kiarostami has touched the heart of many through his films. French-Swiss director Jean-Luc Godard is reported to have said: “Cinema begins with D.W. Griffith and ends with Abbas Kiarostami”.

Abbas Kiarostami won the admiration of audiences and critics worldwide for his films and received at least seventy awards up including the Palme d’Or (1997), Silver Lion (1999) as well as the Prix Roberto Rossellini (1992) and the Pier Paolo Pasolini Award (1995).

His revered film Taste of Cherry, awarded the Palme d’Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, is a minimalist film about a man who drives through different places looking for someone to bury him following his suicide. Hisfilm, ‘Ten’ which was shot on two digital cameras attached to a car was also nominated for a Palme d’Or. This film features a female taxi driver in Tehran and her conversations with passengers.

In 2003, The Guardian ranked Kiarostami as the sixth best director of the world. Two years later in 2005, Kiarostami teamed up with the British director Ken Loach and Italian filmmaker Ermanno Olmi to make Tickets, a three-part film following the tales of three different sets of people on the same train.

In March 2016, Kiarostami was hospitalized in Iran due to intestinal bleeding; however, in late June he left Iran for treatment in a Paris hospital, where he died on 4 July.

As the news of Abbas Kiarostami’s passing continues to send shake waves through the film industry, the numerous tributes have been shared over the past few weeks.

Martin Scorsese remembered the filmmaker in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter: “I was deeply shocked and saddened when I heard the news of Abbas Kiarostami’s death. He was one of those rare artists with a special knowledge of the world”.

Abbas Kiarostami is widely known for using of certain themes and cinematic techniques in his films, from the use of children as the main characters of his movies and stories that take place in villages, to employing contemporary Iranian poetry in dialogue, movie titles, and in the thematic elements of his pictures.

Abbas was a great man and a very talented artist that privileged us with the rare opportunity to bask in everything cinema should be. May he rest in peace.

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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