Season: The Films of Abbas Kiarostami
At the time of his death in Paris in 2016, Abbas Kiarostami was an undisputed master of contemporary cinema.
Across four decades, his deeply humanist and formally inventive works drew praise from global audiences and critics but perhaps he was most revered by filmmakers themselves. Martin Scorsese attributed the ‘highest level of artistry in the cinema’ to Kiarostami. The Japanese master Akira Kurosawa said, ‘When Satyajit Ray passed on, I was very depressed. But after seeing Kiarostami's films, I thanked God for giving us just the right person to take his place.’
Born in Tehran in 1940, Kiarostami studied painting and graphic design, directed commercials, wrote poetry and illustrated children’s books before embarking on filmmaking. His early films largely centred on the lives of children but, as Kiarostami was often at pains to clarify, they were ‘about, but not necessarily for, children’. Journeys and quests form the backbone of Kiarostami’s narrative films, and particularly the titles in this season, but as critic Jonathan Rosenbaum suggests, it’s not the resolution of the quest but the digressions that offer much of the ‘personality, humour, and atmosphere’ in these films.
The Koker Trilogy – Where is the Friends House? (1987), And Life Goes On... (1992), Through the Olive Trees (1994) – introduced Kiarostami to the world. Named for the region where they were shot, the films became increasingly meta, and this formal experimentation alongside the use of non-professional actors, lent an unbridled dimension which is exhilarating on either first or repeated viewings. Critically acclaimed films such as The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) and Taste of Cherry (1997) followed.
Kiarostami met the new millennium on its terms, experimenting with digital technologies and pushing the very boundaries of what direction is with his masterpiece, Ten (2002). Critic Geoff Andrew noted that while Kiarostami ‘was not a traditional cinephile, he probably thought more deeply about cinema – its potential, limitations and ethics – than most filmmakers’. By the end of his career, the fine artist, teacher and collaborator had introduced the world to Iranian cinema whilst changing the very boundaries of what we call a film.
Notes by Kristy Matheson – Director of Film, ACMI
Taste of Cherry - 27 August, 6.00pm
Where is the Friend's House ? - 28 August, 6.00pm
And Life Goes On... - 28 August, 4.00pm
Through the Olive Trees - 28 August, 7.00pm
The Wind Will Carry Us - 29 August, 2.00pm
Ten - 29 August, 4.30pm
Presented by the NFSA in partnership with ACMI and the Sydney Film Festival.
Individual tickets: $12 Adult / $10 Concession: see individual sessions above
Season Pass (6 films, including Koker trilogy): $60 Adult / $50 Concession: tickets here
Koker Trilogy (Where is the Friends House?; And Life Goes On...;Through the Olive Trees) : $30 Adult / $24 Concession: tickets here
Abbas Kiarostami Biography
Abbas Kiarostami (born Tehran, 1940) studied at Tehran University’s Faculty of Fine Arts majoring in painting and graphic design. In 1969, he established the filmmaking division for the government-run Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (Kanoon). Between 1970 and 2016, Kiarostami made over 60 features and short films. He primarily worked in Iran but also, toward the end of his career, in Italy (Certified Copy, 2010) and Japan (Like Someone in Love, 2012).
Alongside his work as a director, Abbas Kiarostami was a published poet, painter and photographer. He taught filmmaking and collaborated with many in the Iranian industry, writing scripts for Jafar Panahi’s The White Balloon (1995) and Crimson Gold (2003). His final film, 24 Frames, was posthumously completed and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017.
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