Abbas Kiarostami

Written by Serena Berger
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Abbas Kiarostami is an Iranian writer/director who has reached international acclaim and elicited comparisons to such classic filmmakers as Bergman, Antonioni, and Kurosawa. Kiarostami began directing in the late 1960s, and spent the subsequent two decades working within a government-sanctioned program called the Center for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, or Kanoon. His most famous films, however, have been made since his break with the governmental institution.

In 1997 Abbas Kiarostami became the first Persian director ever to win the Palme d'Or, the highest honor at the Cannes film festival. This award is the European equivalent of the Oscar for Best Picture, and is perhaps even more outstanding because of the breadth of nations and variety of submissions considered. The film in question, Taste of Cherry, is a highly personal film about contemplating suicide, a movie made all the more remarkable by the fact that the subject is taboo in Kiarostami's home country and the Iranian government refused to allow the work to be shown at all.

The Abbas Kiarostami Trilogy

In addition to Taste of Cherry, Abbas Kiarostami is also responsible for a trilogy of films made in a poor village in Iran. The first film, 1987's Where is the Friend's House, tells the tale of a young boy traveling through the village after school to find a friend and return his notebook. The film used local non-actors, and honestly portrayed the lives of the people there.

In 1990, an earthquake devastated the region, and Kiarostami returned to find out if the people with whom he had worked survived. Touched by the experience, he created the second film, And Life Goes On. In 1994 he recreated the shooting of And Life Goes On, and told the story of two townspeople who had had tiny parts in the previous film, fallen in love, but been unable to come together due to economic and social constraints. All of these films can be acquired, in some cases on DVD and in others on VHS, through online film distributors.


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