10:08pm, 5th July, 2016
Abbas Kiarostami, the greatest Iranian film director, died on Monday in Paris aged 76.
Why do we miss someone? Why do we feel bad when someone is no more? It’s because we are not our own. All of us together form and share the conscience of humanity. When someone departs from it, there’s a void. And when that someone is the likes of Abbas Kiarostami, who has descended to the roots of this conscience, the void is overwhelming.
Profoundly rooted in realism, Kiarostami’s films were poetry in frames. He had started out by making short films about childhood problems for the Center for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults. In his own words, this was ‘the making of an artist’ who would later enthuse the world cinema as a breeze of innovativeness and simplicity.
His first short film, exquisite as it is, ‘The Bread and Alley’ (1970) showcased a different reel of reality. Unlike his contemporaries, he stayed in Iran even after the Khomeini Revolution, and made films within the country. Totally apolitical, he managed to find ways around the strict restrictions and censorships under the new regime. That is the commitment he had for all his films
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‘Where Is the Friend’s House?’ was the first feature film that earned Kiarostami international acclaim. He exposed the social context of a small village in Iran from the perspective of a young boy who wants to return his school friend’s notebook. That is the innocence you find in all his films.
It was ‘Taste of Cherry’ (1997) that brought Abbas Kiarostami the Palme D’Or from Cannes. The film was about a man, who has decided to commit suicide, and his search for someone to bury him. The film impressed international critics and audience alike. Jean-Luc Godard, after seeing the film, said: “Film begins with DW Griffith and ends with Abbas Kiarostami.” That is the brilliance you find in all his films.
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What make his films so much beautiful are his characteristically slow cuts and long shots. They tend to create a perception reality so devoid of pretences that you cannot decipher its meaning; you have to feel it. The rhythm and mood is so ingenious that the deepest trenches of philosophy and poetic beauty are surfed together effortlessly. These films depict life and reality from an altogether uncharacteristically real perspective. Kiarostami represented the best of Iranian life and culture, but his films represented the best of humanity. That is the honesty you find in all his films.
Anybody who’s ever watched his movie knows how he has touched the heart of humanity. And for us, who try to decipher meanings from reality, from philosophising actions and thoughts, Abbas Kiarostami is a beacon of excellence who not only borrowed from the raw beauty of reality but also disseminated it through his frames. He proved that the artists can find a way even in distraught conditions. He planted the seeds of a new vision in all of us.
We bow down to him.
you can watch his short films compilation here
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