Parting with a master: Abbas Kiarostami

Film enthusiasts all over the world were shocked to the core by the death of Abbas Kiarostami in July (of this year). As his colleague Asghar Farhadi so aptly put it in an interview with The Guardian soon after: “It's not just the world of cinema that has lost a great man; the whole world has lost someone really great.”

Av 4. okt 2016

Abbas Kiarostami was the most influential filmmaker in post-revolutionary Iran. He inspired many of his colleagues, including the perhaps even more prolific Jafar Panahi. At this year's Films from the South, we honor the late director with a special tribute programme. Get a full view of it and order tickets HERE.

Kiarostami visited Oslo in 2006, due to his growing popularity worldwide. All his feature films, as well as most of his shorts and documentaries, were screened at Oslo film theatre Cinemateket.  A collection of his poems was translated and published by Norwegian publisher Tiden Norsk Forlag, and his collection of photographs, Shadows in the Snow, was exhibited at the Stenersen-museum. Abbas Kiarostami visited Oslo for ten days, and spent much of the time running a workshop in which several Norwegian filmmakers would learn about Kiarostami’s creative methods. His visit made an impact. Abbas Kiarostami made an impact. Luckily his legacy remains.

Abbas Kiarostami graduated as a painter, but never felt like painting was his calling. He started his career in filmmaking making closing credits and commercials, later transitioning over to film. Even though his earlier works were educational films for children and teenagers, they still explored the possibilities of the medium. Even his first film, Bread And Alley (1970), contains traces of Kiarostami’s trademark: A sharp eye for children’s experiences as well as a genuine passion for the hardships of people and the unstable relations that make up their day-to-day life.

His film Where Is The Friend’s Home? (1987) was the first installment in what was later known as the Koker-trilogy (named after the village the films where shot in) and made Kiarostami famous outside his native country of Iran for the first time. When Kiarostami won the Palme d’Or in Cannes for Taste of Cherry in 1997, he had been a filmmaker for over twenty years. His international acclaim had grown with works like Close-Up (1990) and the Koker-trilogy. Later he became a pioneer in directing through his use of digital cameras. Kiarostami was also remarkably sensitive to the camera’s presence and the relationship between the actor and the camera (for example in Ten and 10 on Ten). One of my personal favourites among Kiarostami’s many films is The Wind Will Carry Us from 1999. It is a film where Kiarostami tackles the relationships between life and death, the urban and the rural, tradition and modern developments, all with a combination of humour, warmth and exquisite style, and overt and subtle references to Persian poetry.

Abbas Kiarostami was a multi-faceted man, someone who was clearly interested in imagery and visual details. Within his films lies a wondrous fascination for the formations in landscapes, all conveyed with rich imagery. In addition to this eye for detail, Kiarostami also had a genuine interest in the lives of others. His ability to see, and portray, how our actions consciously or unconsciously affect the lives of others is only part of this great filmmaker’s legacy. Honouring that legacy, Films From The South will be showing several of his films during this year’s festival.



Abbas Kiarostami (1940 – 2016): One of Iran’s most remarkable and significant filmmakers. His films have had a huge influence on a number of filmmakers and have spellbound audiences both in his home country and globally. Kiarostami received many prestigious awards for his works, like the Palm d’Or in Cannes for Taste of Cherry (1997). His work in poetry, painting and photography has also received praise.


Selected filmography: Close-Up (1990), Life, and Nothing More…(1991), Through The Olive Trees (1994), Taste of Cherry (1997), The Wind Will Carry Us (1999) Ten (2002), Certified Copy (2010), Like Someone in Love (2012)