Abbas Kiarostami, Iranian Director, Dies

By Grimes, William | International New York Times, July 7, 2016 | Go to article overview

Abbas Kiarostami, Iranian Director, Dies


Grimes, William, International New York Times


Associated with the Iranian New Wave of the late 1960s, Mr. Kiarostami was known for his parablelike dramas of ordinary people.

Abbas Kiarostami, often hailed as Iran's greatest filmmaker, whose searching, parablelike dramas of ordinary people and their problems reflected a poetic vision and a philosophical turn of mind, died on Monday in Paris. He was 76.

Iran's official news agency said he had traveled there to receive treatment for cancer after undergoing surgery in Tehran.

Mr. Kiarostami, loosely associated with the Iranian New Wave of the late 1960s, started out making short films about childhood problems for the Center for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, where he had established a filmmaking division. He often worked in a semidocumentary style and used nonprofessional actors, from whom he coaxed extraordinary performances.

"At the beginning it was just a job, but it was the making of me as an artist," he told The Guardian in 2005. "The important thing is that I didn't work in commercial films. I look at these 20 years as the best period of my professional life."

He remained in Iran after the 1979 revolution and, never a political filmmaker, largely managed to work around the artistic obstacles thrown up by the new regime.

He began attracting notice outside Iran with the feature film "Where Is the Friend's House?" (1987), about a conscientious schoolboy determined to return a friend's notebook to keep him from being expelled. This was the first installment in the three films called the Koker trilogy, set in the village of that name in northern Iran, rocked by a devastating earthquake that struck in 1990.

Drawn back to the area, Mr. Kiarostami made two films dealing with the aftermath of the tragedy, "And Life Goes On" (1992) and "Through the Olive Trees" (1994), that marked the director as a major talent in world cinema, whose profoundly rooted realism and compassion drew comparisons to Vittorio De Sica and the Indian director Satyajit Ray. …

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