Abbas Kiarostami is the most influential and controversial post-revolutionary Iranian filmmaker and one of the most highly celebrated directors in the international film community of the last decade. (1) During the period of the ‘80s and the ‘90s, at a time when Iranians had such a negative image in the West, his cinema introduced a humane and artistic face.
Kiarostami is a graduate of Tehran University’s Faculty of Fine Arts in Painting. He was first involved in painting, graphics and book illustration and then began his film career by making credit-titles and commercials.
He founded the film department of the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (known as Kanun) where a number of the highest quality Iranian films were produced. He ran the department for five years and at the same time directed his first film, Bread and Alley, in 1970. Making educational films for children at Kanun, a non-commercial organization, helped him form his basic approach to cinema.
Although Kiarostami made several award-winning films early in his career, it was after the revolution that he earned a highly esteemed reputation on the stage of world cinema. 20 years after his ground-breaking debut feature, Report (1977), he was awarded the prestigious Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) award at the Cannes International Film Festival for his film Taste of Cherry in 1997.
His masterpiece Close-Up (1990) and, later, the poetic Life and Nothing More…(1992) led to Kiarostami’s discovery in the West, and only then it was mainly by the French. He won the Un Certain Regard award for the latter at Cannes.
Kiarostami belongs to a generation of filmmakers who created the so called “New Wave”, a movement in Iranian cinema that started in the ‘60s, before the revolution of 1979 and flourished in the ‘70s. (2) Directors like Farrokhzad, Saless, Bayzai, and Kimiavi were the pioneers of this movement. They made innovative art films which had highly political and philosophical tones and poetic language. Some, like Saless (who is compared to Bresson), introduced a realist (minimal plot, non-dramatic) style, while others, like Kimiavi (known as the Iranian Godard, mixing fantasy and reality), employed a metaphoric form.
What distinguishes Kiarostami’s style is his unique but unpretentious poetic and philosophical vision. Not only does he break away from conventional narrative and documentary filmmaking, he also challenges the audience’s role. He plays with their expectations and provokes their creative imagination. His films invite the viewer to reflect, confront stereotypes, and actively question their assumptions. In Taste of Cherry, the reason for Mr. Badii’s suicide is not given to the viewer. Consequently, the audience has to imagine that reason. In Kiarostami’s words, the untold or unexplained parts of his films are created in the minds of his audience. What is presented as obscure or hidden becomes clear and apparent through the audience’s imagination (for example, characters’ motivations and inner worlds). In this way, the audience member becomes responsible for the clarity that she/he expects from the film.
In Taste of Cherry, the shift from narrative to documentary not only adds another layer to the film but separates and distances the audience and therefore creates a space for his/her presence in the film. For example, in the final sequence, where the hero lies in his grave, a long fade shifts the film from the narrative section to a behind-the-scenes documentary (shot on video) where we see Kiarostami and his crew. The long fade becomes a trigger for viewers to start feeling their own presence, as well as a mirror to see themselves in. It also motivates them to think about the ways they can understand the shift from the narrative to the documentary, as well as the change in formats from film to video.
Kiarostami, in his movement towards a plotless cinema and a minimal and elliptic compressed narrative, has also used the dark screen in a number of his films, serving similar goals in terms of the audience’s involvement. The dark scene in the cellar where the young village girl is milking the cow while the hero is citing Forough’s poetry to her in The Wind Will Carry Us (1999), and the seven minute black scene in A.B.C. Africa (2001) where we hear Kiarostami talk, beautifully challenge the audience’s expectations as well as celebrating the creative use of sound. This striking moment in ABC Africa occurs when Kiarostami stops talking as he enters his room in complete darkness. We hear him drawing the window’s curtain but we don’t see anything for awhile. Suddenly a lightning bolt reveals the view of trees for a second. The image has become magical because it is delayed and anticipated for a long time.
Another way that Kiarostami invites the creative participation of his audience can be seen in his film Close-Up, where he interrupts and undermines the expected dramatic flow of the story-line with minor characters whose lives are not considered dramatic or important. He also mixes fact and fiction in such a way that it is impossible to separate the two. The non-chronological order of the scenes in the film which offer different points-of-view urge the audience to make sense of the story (putting it in their order), as well as asking them to judge the characters on their own terms.
Close-Up not only refers to the role of cinema in Iran as a means of power, popularity, and social mobility, similar to the role of basketball for black youth in America, but it also confronts the viewer with her/his own relationship to cinema. Kiarostami criticises the role of media and the media-maker in deceiving the audience – a contemporary universal issue. In this film more than his other films, Kiarostami reveals the characters through their lies and performances. Hence Kiarostami’s quotation “the shortest way to truth is lie.” (3)
Close-Up contains many key elements of Kiarostami’s cinema. The main character is innocent yet corrupt. Although here, unlike in Traveler (1974) or The Wind Will Carry Us, he is sympathetic. Both behind-the-scenes and within the frame, Kiarostami is self-critical as a filmmaker. We see him in the opening scene talking to the hero in prison and toward the end we hear him talking to his crew. In Homework (1990) he interviews the children and in Case No. 1 and Case No.2 (1979) he interviews a number of cultural authorities. The filmmaker, though as a fictional character, appears again in Through the Olive Trees (1994), Life and Nothing More… and The Wind Will Carry Us. This self-conscious cinema is a double-edged sword. It can be read as a self-critical cinema where Kiarostami questions his role as a filmmaker. Also, it can be seen as a means to distance the audience and make them conscious.
What is so specific in Kiarostami’s style is his attention to form and the role it plays in creating poetry and humor in his films. As Tati demonstrates, and as observed by Jonathan Rosenbaum, form plays a major role in creating cinematic humor. (4) What is normally non-humorous is seen and heard as humorous, ridiculous, or absurd through Kiarostami’s films. Similar to Tati’s Playtime (1967), Kiarostami’s fantastic short Orderly or Disorderly (1981) derives its power and humor through shot composition, the use of sound, and, in particular, Kiarostami’s voice over. The high angle long shots of the children in the school-yard lining up to drink water or getting on the bus, as well as the impatient drivers who complicate traffic in a Tehran intersection, reveal the humorous nature of chaos and order in public spaces.
Also, form as a zigzag pattern is emphasised through shot composition or camera movement. For example, the recurrent image of zigzagging roads in his films has become a philosophical and metaphysical statement as well as revealing the general situation of his characters. The zigzag path in Where is the Friend’s House? (1987) shows the many turns that the child has to take in order to find his friend. Similarly, the man who is driving on the hilly roads in Taste of Cherry is looking for someone to bury him. In Life and Nothing More…, the filmmaker has to find two children who acted in his previous film, following a deadly earthquake that shook northern Iran. Even sometimes the zigzagging movements of an object like an apple in The Wind Will Carry Us or the empty spray can in Close-Up show the randomness of fate. They are practically Kiarostami’s signatory shots.
Kiarostami’s later films, especially the three films that are known as a trilogy, Where is the Friend’s House?, Through the Olive Trees, and Life and Nothing More…, have a strong emphasis on landscape and architecture, revealing Kiarostami’s philosophical point-of-view. The beautiful view of trees revealed through the ruins of the village in Where is the Friend’s House?, the long shot of the cracked road in Life and Nothing More…, and the long shot of the wheat field in The Wind Will Carry Us, remind the audience of the beauty that the main character ignores. As Kiarostami gradually moves toward nature and rural characters and settings, the landscape shots become more instrumental in the structure of his post-revolutionary films.
Although Kiarostami uses small crews and mainly non-actors and no script, his recent documentary feature A.B.C. Africa signals the emergence of a new approach. It is his first film that is shot outside Iran and on digital video. The film is predominately shot in English, saturated in colour, and has wall-to-wall music. Unlike most of his previous films, A.B.C. Africa is populated with strong women characters – a sharp contrast to his previous films, where the absence of women was noticeable. One can view this as another movement in his cinema that has started mainly with The Wind Will Carry Us and is continued in his most recent film, Ten (2002), films which feature mainly women characters.
Kiarostami’s cinema celebrates the economy of film language and offers an alternative to the fancy, excessive mainstream cinema. A controversial characteristic of his films is how they encourage the audience to reflect and creatively participate in them. His films challenge viewers’ stereotypes and make them aware of their own blind spots. A refreshing experience of watching Kiarostami’s films is how they resist giving an expected, homogeneous, or exotic “third-world” image of Iranian culture to the audience. Each of his films, even those that are shot in the remote rural areas of Iran, reflect McLuhan’s concept of the “global village” and our disillusion of the image of “self” as separate, immune, and distant from the “other”.
Films directed by Kiarostami:
Bread and Alley (Nan-O Kuche) (1970, short) Prod: Kanun. Sc: Taghi Kiarostami. DP: Mehrdad Fakhimi. Ed: Manuchehr Oliai. Sound: Harayer Ateshkar. Music: Paul Desmond, “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da”. Cast: Reza Hashemi, Mehdi Shahranfar. 10 min. 45 sec. B&W, 35mm.
Jahan Nama Palace (Ghasr-e Jahan Nama) (1972, documentary short) 31 min. Colour, 16 mm.
Recess/Breaktime (Zang-e Tafrih) (1972, short) Sc: Abbas Kiarostami (based on a story by Masud Madani). DP: Ali-Reza Zarrindast, Morteza Rastegar. Ed: Rouhollah Emami. Sound: Harayer. Cast: Cyrus Hassanpour. 14 min. 45 sec. B&W, 35mm.
The Experience (Tajrobeh) (1973, short feature) Prod: Kanun. Sc: Abbas Kiarostami (based on a story by Amir Naderi). DP: Ali-Reza Zarrindast. Ed: Mehdi Rejaian. Cast: Hassan Yar-Mohamadi, Parviz Naderi, Andre Guvalovich. 60 min. B&W, 35mm, 1973.
The Traveler (Mosafer) (1974, short feature) Prod: Kanun. Sc: Abbas Kiarostami (based on a story by Hassan Rafie). D.P: Fruz Malekzadeh. Music: Kambiz Rushanavan. Ed: Amir-Hossein Hesami. Cast: Hasan Darabi (Qasem), Massud Zand Pegleh, Mostafa Tari. 71 min. 25 sec. B&W, 35mm.
Two Solutions for One Problem (Do Rah-e Hal Baray-e Yek Masaleh) (1975, short) Prod: Kanun. Sc/ed: Abbas Kiarostami. DP: Morteza Rastegar. Sound: Changiz Sayad. Asst. dir: M. Haji. Cast: Sahid and Hamid. 4 min. 25 sec. Colour, 35mm.
So Can I (Manam Mitunam) (1975, short) Prod: Kanun. Sc/ed: Abbas Kiarostami. DP: Mostafa Haji. Sound: Harayer, M. Haqiqi. Music: Nasser Cheshmazar. Animation: Farzaneh Taghavi. Cast: Kamal Riahi, Ahmad Kiarostami. 3 min. 30 sec. Colour, 35mm.
The Colours (Rangha) (1976, short) Prod: Kanun. Sc/ed: Abbas Kiarostami. DP: Morteza Rastegar, Mostafa Haji. Sound: Changiz Sayad. Cast: Shahin Amir-Arjomand. 15 min. Colour, 35mm.
The Wedding Suit (Lebasi Baray-e Arusi) (1976, short feature) Prod: Kanun. Sc: Abbas Kiarostami, Parviz Davai. DP: Foirouz Malekzadeh. Ed: Mousa Afshar. Asst. dir: Ahmad Mirshekari. Executive producer: Ebrahim Foruzesh. Cast: Mohammad Fazih Motaleb, Massud Zand Begleh, Mehdi Nekui. 57 min. Colour, 35mm.
Tribute to the Teachers (Bozorgdasht-e Moallem) (1977, short) 20 min.
How We Should Use Our Free Time (Az Oghat-e Faaghat-e Khod Cheguneh Estefadeh Konim) (1977, short) 7 min.
(This TV documentary and the preceding one are believed to be lost; other TV films cited that Kiarostami may have written include Sunrise.)
Report (Gozaresh) (1977, feature) Prod: Bahman Farminara. Sc: Abbas Kiarostami. D.P: Ali-Reza Zarindast. Ed: Mah-Talaat Mirfendereski. Sound: Yusef Shahab. Cast: Shohreh Agdashlu (wife), Kurosh Afsharpanah (Mohammed), Mostafa Tari. 112 min. Colour, 35mm.
Solution (Rah-e Hal) (1978, short) Prod: Kanun. Sc/ed: Abbas Kiarosatmi. DP: Firuz Malekzadeh. Sound: Changiz Sayad. 11 min. 55 sec. Colour, 16mm.
Case No. 1, Case No. 2 (Qazih-e shekl-e aval, dovom) (1979, documentary) Prod: Kanun. Ed: Abbas Kiarostami. D.P: Baharalu. Sound: Changiz Sayad. Asst. dir: Naser Zera’ati. 53 min. Colour, 16mm.
Toothache (Dandan-e dard) (1980, short) Prod: Kanun. D.P: Firuz Malekzadeh. Sound: Changiz Sayad. 24 min. Colour, 16 mm.
Orderly or Disorderly/Regularly or Irregularly (Be Tartib Ya Bedun-e Tartib) (1981, short) Prod: Kanun. Sc:Abbas Kiarostami. Sound: Changiz Sayad. 15 min. Colour, 35 mm.
The Chorus (Hamsorayan) (1982, short) Prod: Kanun. Ed: Abbas Kiarostami. Sc: Abbas Kiarostami (based on a story by Mohammad Javad Kahnamoie.) D.P: A.R. Zarindast. Sound: Ahmad Asgari, Changiz Sayad. Asst. dir: Naser Zera’ati. Cast: Yusef Moqaddam, Ali Asgari, Teymur and children from Rasht. 17 min. Colour, 35mm.
Fellow Citizen (Hamshahri) (1983, short documentary) Prod: Kanun. Sc: Abbas Kiarosatami. D.P: Firuz Malekzadeh. Sound: M. Haqiqi. Cast: Reza Mansuri (traffic cop). 53 min. Colour, 16 mm.
Fear and Suspicion (Tars Va Su-e Zan) (1984)
Planned as a 13-episode TV series; one or two episodes were filmed but never broadcast, with Kiarostami and a psychologist screening clips from Kiarostami’s films and polling 20 or so spectators regarding their responses. (This material may be lost.)
First Graders (Avaliha) (1985, documentary feature) Prod: Kanun. Sc/ed: Abbas Kiarostami. D.P: Homayun Payvar. Sound: Changiz Sayad. Cast: teachers, staff, and pupils at the Tohid School. 85 min. Colour, 16 mm.
Where is the Friend’s House?/Where is the Friend’s Home? (Khaneh-ye dust kojast?) (1987, feature) Prod: Kanun. Sc/ed: Abbas Kiarostami. D.P: Farhad Saba. Executive producer: Ali-Reza Zarrin. Cast: Babak Ahmadpur, Ahmad Ahmadpur. 92 min. Colour, 35mm.
Homework (Mashgh-e Shab) (1990, documentary feature) Prod: Kanun. Sc/ed: Abbas Kiarostami. D.P: Iraj Safavi, Ali Asghar Mirza. Music: Mohammad-Reza Aligholi. Research: Saeed Dolatabadi. Executive prod: Ali-Reza Zarrin. 86 min., Colour, 16mm.
Close-Up (Namay-e Nazdik) (1990, docudrama feature) Prod: Kanun. Sc/ed: Abbas Kiarostami. D.P: Ali-Reza Zarrindast. Executive prod: Ali-Reza Zarrin. Music: Kambiz Roushanavan (theme from The Traveler). Cast: Hossein Sabzian, Mehrdad Ahankhah, Houshang Shamai, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Hassan Farazmand. 102 min. Colour, 35mm.
Life and Nothing More…/…And Life Goes On ( …Va Zendegi Edameh Darad) (1992, feature) Prod: Kanun. Sc: Abbas Kiarostami. D.P.: Homayoun Pievar. Ed: Abbas Kiarostami. Sound: Changiz Sayad. Executive prod: Ali-Reza Zarrin. Music: Vivaldi. Cast: Farhad Kheradmand, Puya Pievar, Hossein Rezai, inhabitants of Rudbar and Rostamabad. 91 min. Colour, 35mm.
Through the Olive Trees (Zir-e Derakhtan-e Zeytun) (1994, feature). Prod//sc/ed: Abbas Kiarostami. D.P: Hossein Jafarian, with Farhad Saba, Bahram Badakhshani, Farzad Jodat. Sound: Mahmud Samakbashi. Asst. dir: Jafar Panahi. Cast: Mohammad-Ali Keshavarz, Farhad Kheradmand, Hossein Rezai, Tahereh Ladanian. Music: Vivaldi. 103 min. Colour, 35mm.
A Propos de Nice, la suite (1995, feature of sketches). Prod: Margo Films (France). 105 min., colour, 35 mm. French language.
A film of several episodes, each inspired by Jean Vigo’s experimental documentary about Nice (A Propos de Nice, 1930). The other directors and writers – apart from Kiarostami and Parviz Kimiavi, who collaborated on one episode entitled “Reperages” – are Catherine Breillat, Costa-Gavras, Clare Denis, Raymond Depardon, Jean-Marie G. Le Clezio, Pavel Lounguine, and Raul Ruiz.
Lumière & Company (1996, feature composed of short segments) Prod: Lumière Company. Sc/ed: Abbas Kiarostami. D.P: Philippe Poulet. Voice: Isabelle Huppert. 52 sec. Colour, 35mm. (To commemorate the centennial of the Lumière brothers’ first motion pictures, about 40 international filmmakers, including Kiarostami, created their own 52-second films using the Lumières’ restored original camera. Kiarostami’s segment was made in Locarno in August 1995 during the Locarno International Film Festival.)
Birth of Light (Tavalod-e Nur) (1997, short) Prod: Waka Film. 5 min.
Taste of Cherry/The Taste of Cherry (Tam-e Gilas) (1987, feature) Prod/ed: Abbas Kiarostami. D.P: Homayoun Pievar. Cast: Homayoun Ershadi (Mr. Badii), Abdolhossein Bagheri, Afhshin Khorshid Bakhtari. Music: Louis Armstrong, “St. James Infirmary” (trumpet solo only). 99 min. Colour, 35mm.
The Wind Will Carry Us (Baad Mara Khahad Bord) (1999, feature) Prod: Marin Karmitz (MK2 Productions), Abbas Kiarostami. Ed: Abbas Kiarostami. Sc: Abbas Kiarostami, based on an idea by Mahmud Aidin. D.P: Mahmud Kalari. Sound. Recordist: Jahangir Mirshekari. Sound Mixer: Mohammad-Reza Delpak. Music: Peyman Yazdanian. Asst. Dir: Bahman Ghobadi. Cast: Behzad Dorani and the inhabitants of a Kurdish village. 118 min. Colour, 35mm.
A.B.C. Africa (2001, documentary feature) Asst. dir: Seiffollah Samadian. D.P/ed: Abbas Kiarostami and Seiffollah Samadian. Music: unidentified guitar and local Ugandan music, “Blue Danube Waltz” (Strauss). 84 min. Colour, digital video transferred to 35mm.
Ten (2002, feature) 91m, Colour.
10 on Ten (2004) 87 mins
Five (2004) 74 mins
1961-69: makes commercials and credits titles for films (e.g., Masud Kimiaie’s Ghaysar and Reza Motori, The Window; Satan’s Temptation)
The Driver (Ranandeh) (1980) Dir: Naser Zara’ati. (Scriptwriter/editor)
The Look (Negah) (1984) Dir: Ebrahim Furuzesh. (Editor)
Class Bell, Recess Bell (Zang-e dars, Zang-e tafrih) (1984) Dir: Iraj Karimi (Editor)
The Moments (Lahzeh-ha) (1985) Dir: Iraj Karimi (Editor)
I, Myself (Khodam, Man Khodam) (1985) Dir: Ebrahim Furuzesh (Scriptwriter/editor)
The Key (Kelid) (1986). Dir: Ebrahim Furuzesh. (Scriptwriter/editor)
The Wild Irises (Zanbaqa-haye vashi) (1989) Dir: Ebrahim Furuzesh. (Editor)
The Three Faces of a School Proctor (Seh Chehreh az yek mobser) (1989) Dir: Hassan Aqa Karimi. (Scriptwriter)
The White Balloon (Badkonak-e sefid) (1995) Dir: Jafar Panahi (Scriptwriter)
The Journey (Safar) (1995) Dir: Ali-Reza Raisian (Scriptwriter)
Willow and Wind (Bid o bad) (1999) Dir: Mohammad Ali Talebi (Scriptwriter)
2001: For a video installation presented at the Venice Biennale, Kiarostami taped a sleeping young couple, and projected their life-size image for 100 minutes on a bed with pillows and sheets in an actual room.
NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL AWARDS AND HONOURS
Compiled by Mohammad Atebbai
1) Jury Special Award for Bread And Alley at the 5th Tehran International Festival of Films for Children and Young Adults, Iran 1970
2) First Prize in Narrative Category for The Experience at the 4th Giffoni International Film Festival, Italy 1974
3) Jury’s Grand Prize for The Traveler at the 9th Tehran International Festival of Films for Children and Young Adults, Iran 1974
4) National TV Prize for The Traveler at the 9th Tehran International Festival of Films for Children and Young Adults, Iran 1974
5) Special Diploma of Critics for A Wedding Suit at the 11th Tehran International Festival of Films for the Children and Young Adults, Iran 1976
6) First Prize for Two Solutions for One Problem at the International Educational Festival of Mexico, 1976
7) Diploma of Honor for A Wedding Suit at the 10th Moscow International Film Festival, Soviet Union 1977
8) Best Film Award for Case No. 1, Case No. 2 at the Iranian Festival of Films for Children and Young Adults, 1979
9) Golden Plaque of Best Short Film for The Chorus at the 2nd Fajr International Film Festival, Tehran 1984
10) Jury Special Award for First Graders at the 4th Fajr International Film Festival, Tehran 1986
11) Golden Plaque of Best Director for Where is the Friend’s House? at the 5th Fajr International Film Festival, Tehran 1987
12) Jury Special Award for Where is the Friend’s House? at the 5th Fajr International Film Festival, Tehran 1987
13) Bronze Leopard for Where is the Friend’s House? at the 42nd Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland 1989
14) FIPRESCI Special Mention for Where is the Friend’s House? at the 42nd Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland 1989
15) Prize of International Confederation of Art Cinemas for Where is the Friend’s House? at the 42nd Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland 1989
16) Ecumenical Jury’s Special Mention for Where is the Friend’s House? at the 42nd Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland 1989
17) Barclay Jury Prize for Where is the Friend’s House? at the 42nd Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland 1989
18) Prize of International Confederation of Art Cinemas for Where is the Friend’s House? at RCC, France, 1989
19) Jury Special Prize for Close-Up at the 8th Fajr International Film Festival, Tehran 1990
20) Silver R for Close-Up at the 3rd Rimini International Film Festival, Italy 1990
21) Best Film Award for Where is the Friend’s House? at the International Film Festival of the Royal Film Archive of Belgium, 1990
22) Prize of Quebec Critics Association for Close-Up at the 19th Montreal International Festival of New Cinema & Video, Canada 1990
23) Prize of Best Director for Close-Up at the 5th Dunkerque International Film Festival, France 1991
24) Press Prize for Close-Up at the 5th Dunkerque International Film Festival, France 1991
25) Prize of the City of Dunkerque for Close-Up at the 5th Dunkerque International Film Festival, France 1991
26) Film Students Prize for Close-Up at the 5th Dunkerque International Film Festival,France 1991
27) CINEKID Award for Where is the Friend’s House? at the 5th Cinekid International Children Film Festival of Amsterdam, The Netherlands 1992
28) FIPRESCI Prize for Close-Up at the 11th Istanbul International Film Festival, Turkey 1992
29) Roberto Rossellini Award for the Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 45th Cannes International Film Festival, France 1992
30) Best Film Award of Un Certain Regard for Life and Nothing More… at the 45th Cannes International Film Festival. France 1992
31) Prix Cine Decouvertes for Life and Nothing More… from the Association of Belgian Film Distributors, 1992
32) François Truffaut Award for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 23rd Giffoni International Film Festival, Italy 1993
33) Prize of City of Rimini for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 6th Rimini International Film Festival, Italy 1993
34) Special award of festival for Film career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 6th Rimini International Film Festival, Italy 1993
35) Special Award of Critics for Life and Nothing More… at the 17th Sao Paulo International Film festival, Brazil 1993
36) Golden Spike for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 38th Valladolid International Film Festival, Spain 1993
37) Silver Hugo for Through the Olive Trees at the 30th Chicago International Film festival, USA 1994
38) Golden Spike for Through the Olive Trees at the 39th Valladolid International Film Festival, Spain 1994
39) Special award of Critics for Through the Olive Trees at the 18th Sao Paulo International Film Festival, Brazil 1994
40) Award of Best Director for Through the Olive Trees at the 8th Singapore International Film Festival, 1995
41) Golden Rose Award of Best Film for Through the Olive Trees at the 13th Bergamo Film Meeting, Italy 1995
42) Best Film Award for Where is the Friend’s House? at the Rome Summer Film Festival, Italy 1995
43) The Third Best Audience Film Prize for Through the Olive Trees at the 44th Melbourne International Film Festival, Australia 1995
44) Pier Paolo Pasolini Award for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami from Pier Paolo Pasolini Foundation, Rome 1995
45) Director of the Year, the Variety International Film Guide, 1996
46) Officier de la Legion d’Honneur from Ministry of Culture and Art of France, 1996
47) Palme d’Or for Best Film for Taste of Cherry at the 50th Cannes International Film Festival, France 1997
48) Special award of Feast of Cinema for Abbas Kiarostami at the 2nd Feast of Cinema, Tehran 1997
49) Special Prize of Festival for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 27th Giffoni International Film Festival, Italy 1997
50) Vittorio De Sica Memorial Award for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami from Vittorio De Sica Foundation, Italy 1997
51) UNESCO Special award for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami from UNESCO, France 1997
52) Taste of Cherry selected as the Best Film of the Year by Time magazine in 1997
53) Taste of Cherry selected as the Best Foreign Film of the Year by Society of Film Critics of Boston, USA 1998
54) Taste of Cherry selected as the Best Foreign Film of the Year by the National Society of Film Critics, USA 1998
55) Special Prize of Masters for Abbas Kiarostami at the 18th Istanbul International Film Festival, Turkey 1999
56) Jury Special Prize for The Wind Will Carry Us at the 56th Venice International Film Festival, Italy 1999
57) FIPRESCI Award for The Wind Will Carry Us at the 56th Venice International Film Festival, Italy 1999
58) The Youth Prize of Future Cinema for The Wind Will Carry Us at the 56th Venice International Film Festival, Italy 1999
59) Golden Plaque of Panorama of European Cinema for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami, Athens, Greece 1999
60) Special Prize for Film career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 21st Montpellier International Mediterranean Film Festival, France 1999
61) Honorary Golden Alexander Prize for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 40th Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Greece 1999
62) Selected as the Most Outstanding Filmmaker of ’90s at the Polling of Cinematheque Ontario, Canada 2000
63) Honorary Prize of the 18th Fajr International Film festival for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami, Tehran, Iran 2000
64) The Best Filmmaker of ’90s, Film Comment Poll, USA 2000
65) Plaque of First Human Rights Declaration of the University of California at Berkeley, USA 2000
66) The Golden Dolphin of Kish Island for Lifetime Achievement in Cinema, Iran 2000
67) Akira Kurosawa Honorary Award of the 43rd San Francisco International Film Festival, USA 2000
68) Special Plaque of Lebanese Ministry of Culture and Art, Lebanon 2000
69) Lifetime Achievement for Abbas Kiarostami at the 3rd Beirut Film Festival, Lebanon 2000
70) Political Cinema Award of Recanati, Italy 2000
Cheshire, Godfrey, “Confessions of a Sin-ephile: Close-Up” Cinema Scope (Toronto), Winter 2000, issue 2, pp. 3-8
Cheshire, Godfrey, “The Short Films of Abbas Kiarostami,” Cinematexas 5 (film festival catalog, October 16-22, 2000, Austin Texas), pp. 154-159
Doraiswamy, Rashmi, “Abbas Kiarostami: Life and Much More” (interview), Cinemaya: The Asian Film Quarterly, Summer 1999, pp. 18-20
Ghoukasian, Zavin, ed., Majmou-e-ye Maghalat dar Naghd-e va Moarrefi Asar-e Abbas Kiarostami (“A Collection of Articles on Criticizing and Introducing the Work of Abbas Kiarostami”), Tehran: Nashr-e Didar, 1375  (In Persian)
Haghighat, Mamad, with the collaboration of Frédéric Sabouraud, Histoire du Cinéma Iranian, 1900–1999, Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou/Bibliothèque publique d’information (Cinéma du réel), 1999 (In French)
Hampton, Howard, “Lynch Mob,” Artforum, January 2000 (See also letters from Kent Jones and Jonathan Rosenbaum and responses from Hampton in March 2000 issue of Artforum)
Ishaghpour, Youssef, Le réel, face et pile: Le cinéma d’Abbas Kiarostami, Tours: Farrago, 2000 (In French)
Jones, Kent, “The Wind Will Carry Us”, Film Comment, Volume 36, No. 2, (March-April 2000), pp.72-3
Karimi, Iraj, Abbas Kiarostami, Filmsaz-e Realist (“Abbas Kiarostami: The Realistic Filmmaker”), Tehran: Nashr-e Ahoo, 1365  (In Persian) Kiarostami, Abbas: Textes, enretiens, filmographie complète, Paris: Petit Bibliothèque des Cahiers du Cinéma, 1997 (In French)
Kiarostami, Abbas, “Le Goût de la Cerise” (cutting continuity of Taste Of Cherry), L’Avant-Scène Cinéma no. 471, April 1998
Kiarostami, Abbas, “Le monde d’A.K.,” Cahiers du Cinéma no. 493.(in French)
Kiarostami, Abbas, Photographies, Photographs, Fotografie …, Paris: Editions Hazan, 1999 (triligual book in French, English, and Italian; includes interview with Kiarostami by Michel Ciment and short biographical sketch)
Naficy, Hamid, An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking, Princeton/ Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2001
Nancy, Jean-Luc and Kiarostami, Abbas, L’Evidence du film/The Evidence of Film (trilingual text in French, English, and Persian), Bruxelles: Yves Gevaert Editeur, 2001
Perez, Gilberto, “History Lessons,” The Material Ghost: Films and Their Medium, Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998
Piroposhteh, Mohammed Shabani, ed., Tarhi Az Doust: Negahi be Zendegi va Asar-e Filmsaz-e Andishmand Abbas Kiarostami (“A Design of a Friend”), Tehran: Entesharat-e Rozaneh, 1376  (In Persian)
Rosenbaum, Jonathan, “The Death of Hulot,” Placing Movies: The Practice of Film Criticism, Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press, pp. 163-179. See also “Tati’s Democracy,” Movies as Politics, Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1997, pp. 37-40
Rosenbaum, Jonathan, “Lessons from a Master,” Chicago Reader, June 14, 1996 (Other early Chicago Reader articles on Kiarostami: October 23, 1992 and September 29, 1995)
Rosenbaum, Jonathan, “Short and Sweet”, Film Comment, Volume 36, No. 4, (July/August 2000), p 27
Rosenbaum, Jonathan, “Life and Nothing More – Abbas Kiarostami’s African Musical”, Film Comment, vol. 37 no. 5, Sept/Oct 2001, pp. 20-21
Saeed-Vafa, Mehrnaz, “Sohrab Shahid Saless: A Cinema of Exile,” Life and Art: The New Iranian Cinema, edited by Rose Issa and Sheila Whitaker, London: National Film Theatre (British Film Institute), 1999, pp. 135-144
Sterritt, David, “With Borrowed Eyes”, Film Comment, Volume 36, No. 4, (July-August 2000), pp 20-26
Books on Kiarostami, in Persian:
Az Doust, Tarhi, Negahi be zendegi va asar-e filmsaz-e andishmand Abbas Kiarostami : Mohammad Shabani Pir Poshteh: Entesharat-e Rozaneh 1376 , Tehran
Kiarostami, Abbas, Filmsaz-e realist: Iraj Karimi: nashr-e Ahoo, 1365 
Majmou-e-ye Maghalat dar naghd-e va Moarrefi Asar-e Abbas Kiarostami: ed: Zavin Ghoukasian: Nashr-e Didar 1375 
Articles in Senses of Cinema
Abbas Kiarostami: A Dialogue Between the Authors (Chicago, September 3, 2001) (Extract from a forthcoming book by Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa and Jonathan Rosenbaum)
Concepts of Suicide in Kiarostami’s Taste of Cherry by Constantine Santas
Imagining Life: The Ending of Taste of Cherry by Michael Price
Taste of Kiarostami by David Sterritt
A Mirror Facing a Mirror by Jared Rapfogel
Through the Olive Trees by Acquarello
Compiled by the author and Michelle Carey
Zeitgeist Films | Abbas Kiarostami
Kiarostami’s films can be purchased here. The page also includes relevant links
Strictly Film School’s offering features reviews of Close-Up, Through the Olive Trees, Taste of Cherry and The Wind Will Carry Us.
An Interview with Abbas Kiarostami, director of Taste of Cherry
A page from the World Socialist Web Site, David Walsh interviews the director upon the film’s release in 1994.
Fill in the Blanks
Jonathan Rosenbaum reviews Taste of Cherry.
Abbas Kiarostami, Iranian Director
Online version of the article originally published in Film International, Autumn 1994.
A Debate with Abbas Kiarostami, Iranian Movie Director
Online version of the article originally published in Film International, Winter 1995.
The History of Cinema: Abbas Kiarostami
Good overview of some of the director’s major works.
The Iranian: Iranian film, Abbas Kiarostami interview
Transcript of forum featuring Abbas Kiarostami, Ali Akbar Mahdi and Bill Horrigan. This piece originally appeared in The Iranian at the time of Taste of Cherry’s release.
Films Without Borders: Abbas Kiarostami Talks About ABC Africa and Poetic Cinema
IndieWire interviews Kiarostami at the time of this documentary’s release.
The Iranian Who Won the World’s Attention
Article by Godfrey Cheshire on the new-found worldwide popularity of the director following his Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1997.
Abbas Kiarostami — Iran Media
This site features a filmography, biography, an article, an interview and information on his shorts.
Insightful site dedicated to the woman whose poem inspired The Wind Will Carry Us. Features Karim Emami’s article “Recollections and Afterthoughts”.
Click here to search for Abbas Kiarostami DVDs, videos and books at
- Film Comment’s poll of the ‘90s (Vol. 36, No.1, Jan/Feb 2000) showed that Kiarostami is the most respected and popular filmmaker in the world’s film community.
- Other major “New Wave” filmmakers include: Dariush Mehrjui, Kamran Shirdel, Amir Naderi, Bahman Farmanara, Amir Naderi, Naser Taghvai, Masud Kimiai, Fereydoun Rahnama, Farrokh Gaffari, Hagir Dariush, Khosrow Haritash, and Arbi Avanesian.
- Kiarostami has used this phrase often, including in the interview “The Goal: Eliminate Directing”, Film Monthly (in Persian), No, 168, January 1994, p.120.
- Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa and Jonathan Rosenbaum, Abbas Kiarostami (University of Illinois Press, forthcoming: September 2002).