Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami remembered

Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami remembered

The Wind Will Carry Us director passed away on July 4
Updated 27 Jul, 2016

KARACHI: Film buffs gathered at T2F on Tuesday evening to remember the critically acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, who died on July 4.

Befittingly, the evening began with the screening of Kiarostami’s award-winning iconic film The Wind Will Carry Us. The title of the story is taken from one of the poems penned by the celebrated Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad. Kiarostami was known for his penchant for poetry.

The film focuses on the perennial issue of death, but without overlooking the significance of life and its vagaries. At the heart of the story is a journalist who with a few of his colleagues comes to a small village called Siah Diareh (black circle), pretending to be someone else, to record and understand the rituals pertaining to the act of bereavement with reference to the expected death of an old woman. The woman does not die, which propels the tale.

The film starts off with a long shot of a car running on a road snaking through part sandy, part verdant fields. There are no close-ups of the main characters for quite a long time. Even when the close-ups come, later in the movie, they are not meant to highlight a one-dimensional point of view.

One of the symbolic characters in the life is a child who early on in the story guides the main character to the village route. The child, as he at the fag end of the film tells the protagonist, knows all the answers that he needs to write down in exam. He symbolises life at its purest.

After the screening, Madiha Aijaz said Kiarostami had been making films for the past 50 years. She said he preferred poetry to novels and the marked feature of his films was that he liked to keep loose ends so that his audiences could interpret his stories themselves.

Another participant, Shehram Mokhtar, said he taught media studies and made sure that his students watched at least one Iranian film for aesthetic appreciation. He said Kiarostami’s films were part of the Iranian New Wave movement, which could be traced back to the 1960s. The movement, he said, came about in reaction to Raza Shah Pehalvi and his ministry of information’s instructions that filmmakers should not show things like village life or poverty.

He claimed that in 1968 Darius Mehrjui’s film The Cow started it all. He said the film was Kafkasque in its approach. He said in the 1980s Kiarostami took the movement forward. He said his films could be called transnational, because mainly they were shown abroad at film festivals, and very few Iranians were familiar with his kind of work. He said after the Islamic revolution filmmakers faced more instructions.

Mr Mokhtar said Kiarostami’s films challenged the idea of black and white narratives, nurturing new viewership. He said contrary to commercial films where the audience had all the answers, his films had no ready-made responses. He said some of the images from his films stayed with the viewer and they could be interpreted in various ways.

Ms Aijaz said Kiarostami was not concerned with audiences. She said the filmmaker used to say ‘to look for being by not being’.

To back up her argument, she said, for example, in The Wind Will Carry Us, there were 12 characters that were talked about but not shown. She said he shunned the western notion of a three-act structure. People were, she said, so used to seeing a beginning, the middle and an end in a film. But his films, she said, were unique because they did not comply with that notion.

Originally published in Dawn, July 27th, 2016


nurul huda Jul 27, 2016 10:36am
Iranian movies are too good. For the first time, i watched "Children of heaven" more than 10 times. Then, "Color of paradise" " The song of the sparrow" Their movies are not out & out commercial movie like hollywood or bollywood. Still they managed to attract the audience of other nations.
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vijay singh Jul 27, 2016 01:36pm
Satyajit Ray, Kurusawa, Ritwik Ghatak and now the late Abbas a different league altogether. These people made cinema and not movies.
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Shahryar Shirazi Jul 27, 2016 04:45pm
@vijay singh can you recommend some movies of the Indian directors. Id like to watch them.
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Indian dude Jul 28, 2016 09:45am
@Shirazi, Abbas Kiarostami was a big fan of Satyajit Ray.You can watch all of his film. Court,Kakka muttai,Ottal,Sairat,Lucia,Labour of Love,Killa,ThiThi,masaan,Chauthi koot,Kothanodi,Visaranai,Dhanak,Brahman Naman etc some new indian film you should watch.
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