My favorite living filmmaker?

I don’t know how to answer that. Not anymore. The answer was clear — Abbas Kiarostami, the visionary who brought us Taste of Cherry, The Wind Will Carry Us, Certified Copy, and Like Someone in Love.

Abbas Kiarostami, 1940-2016

But Kiarostami died on Monday, July 4. He was in Paris, where he had been receiving treatment for cancer. He was only 76. And I was eagerly anticipating his next film.

A memorial for Abbas Kiarostami at Cinema Museum 20.
A memorial for Abbas Kiarostami at Cinema Museum 20.

As it’s the end of the quarter, and I’m busy grading papers, I haven’t had time to write up a suitable tribute celebrating his work. So I will have to settle for sharing some others, and revisiting the couple of times I’ve written about his films.

Here are my reviews of

Here are remembrances from:

Howie Movshovitz (NPR):

Kiarostami was revered by many around the world, and he mentored and inspired two generations of filmmakers in Iran. According to friend and translator Khazeni, he always saw beyond his status.

“He had at once a grasp of his stature and a complete humility vis-à-vis what had been decreed about his work,” she says. “He just worked. That was what he had to do. … And that’s what makes me so unhappy about the news of his death, because he had many more films to make.”

Tina Hassannia (The Globe and Mail):

…while Kiarostami has long been championed as one of cinema’s greatest artists – a filmmaker who deftly balanced humanism and poetry – his legacy rests on one, giant accomplishment: his films frequently challenged the simplistic image of Iranians as religious fundamentalists. His work demystified an entire people who were so often misrepresented by the Western world.

Moinak Biswas (The Wire):

The passing of Abbas Kiarostami (1940- 2016) is one of those moments of mourning that have become rare. It is more common to mourn the loss of technological forms than individuals in the world of filmmaking today, as we are told the age of the masters is no longer with us. Kiarostami was indeed one of the very few filmmakers to emerge in the last couple of decades to be recognized as an ‘auteur’, long after the word lost its currency in film criticism. It is not easy to think of another artist who dedicated himself with comparable seriousness to thinking and feeling with the cinema, to exploring the mingling of life and image into a single breath and flow.

Kevin B. Lee (Fandor) :

Kiarostami’s relentlessly open and inquisitive understanding of cinema was and remains indispensable at a time when “cinema” appears to be dissolving into something else. The advent of digital media and social media platforms has led to an explosion of moving image forms, transforming what we once knew as “film” into any number of modes and mediums. I wager that most people who’ve seen Kiarostami’s films haven’t seen them on film, but on DVD or online video. What does it mean to watch them in these conditions, when they for the most part seem intended for the cloistered quarters and undivided attention afforded by the theatrical cinematic space? Even when Kiarostami embraced digital filmmaking in the 2000s, he did so in such a way to stretch attention spans, not compress or cater to them.

Vahid Mortazavi (Fandor):

… here lies the essence of Kiarostami’s cinematic trajectory: from the start, we see a unique filmmaker whose obsession with the act and ethics of looking is reflected in the development of his characters. They grow ever richer while he continues to search for the right way of looking into human nature.

Tope Ogundare (Fandor):

This video is a brief exploration of Kiarostami’s use of cars as dramatic spaces, featuring the dubbed narration of the Iranian great, from his masterclass/documentary 10 on Ten

Via Melissa Tamminga, here’s a documentary called “Abbas Kiarostami: The Art of Living”:

And here’s Melissa’s wonderful piece on Certified Copy.