Abbas Kiarostami's career in film began at the Center for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults at the age of 30. He has since written, directed, edited, and produced over 30 shorts, features, and documentaries that have won acclaim both at home and abroad. Kiarostami has gained so much international praise that he decided to stop entering his films for competition at festivals because he believed that he had won enough awards (at least 46 prizes since 1970). Throughout his career, Kiarostami has taken on many assistant directors that have gone on to see success as directors in their own right, often making their debuts directing a script penned by Kiarostami. Among others, Kiarostami has helped start the careers of such directors as Ebrahim Forouzesh, Iraj Karimi, Jafar Panahi, Ali Reza Raisian, and Bahman Ghobadi.
24 Frames dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (2017, 114 min., Iran)
The final film from Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami is a wordless series of sketches elaborating on his lifelong fascination with photography. Consisting of 24 four-and-a-half minute sketches—each a digitally manipulated, fixed-frame view of a scene from nature—24 Frames allows the late Kiarostami to evoke the moments before and after a still image has been captured, and to explore the thin line between natural and artificial beauty. Largely absent of humans, and alternating between color and black-and-white, these poetic miniatures gradually come to life with subtlety, giving rise to the poignant and mysterious possibilities of the moving image.
Like Someone in Love dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (2012, 109 min., France/Japan) In Japanese with English subtitles
Like Someone in Love revolves around the brief encounter between an elderly professor (the wonderful 81-year-old stage actor Tadashi Okuno, here playing his first leading role in a film) and a sociology student (Rin Takanashi) who moonlights as a high-end escort. Dispatched to the old man by her boss—one of the professor’s former students—the young woman finds her latest client less interested in sex than in cooking her soup, talking, and playing old Ella Fitzgerald records (like the one that gives the film its allusive title). Eventually, night gives way to day and a tense standoff with the student’s insanely jealous boyfriend (Ryō Kase); but as usual in Kiarostami, nothing is quite as it appears on the surface.
Certified Copy dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (2010, 106 min., France/Italy) In English
Juliette Binoche won the Best Actress prize in Cannes for her performance in this playful and provocative romantic drama from legendary auteur Abbas Kiarostami, his first feature made outside of Iran. Binoche plays a gallery owner living in a Tuscan village who attends a lecture by a British author (opera star William Shimell) on authenticity and fakery in art. Afterward, she invites him on a tour of the countryside, during which he is mistaken for her husband. They keep up the pretense and continue on their afternoon out, discussing love, life and art, and increasingly behaving like a long-married couple. But are they play-acting on a whim or is there more to their seemingly new relationship than meets the eye?
Shirin dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (2008, 92 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
A vibrant, daringly original work from Abbas Kiarostami, SHIRIN is the flowering of an experimentalist streak that’s been evident in many of the director’s most well-known features. Ostensibly an adaptation of a 12th century Persian poem about a young princess courted by two men, a nobleman and an artist, Kiarostami never shows us the film in question. Instead, we are compelled to reconstruct the narrative from dialogue and sound, and the emotions that flash across the faces of a rapt, mostly female audience. A movie about a movie we never see, SHIRIN makes us active participants in a unique cinematic experience.
The Wind Will Carry Us dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (1999, 118 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
A group of journalists pretending to be production engineers arrive in a Kurdish village to document the locals' mourning rituals that anticipate the death of an old woman, but she remains alive. The main engineer is forced to slow down and appreciate the lifestyle of the village.
Taste of Cherry dir. by Abbas Kiarostami 1997, 95 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry is an emotionally complex meditation on life and death. Middle-aged Mr. Badii (Homayoun Ershadi) drives through the hilly outskirts of Tehran-searching for someone to rescue or bury him.
Through the Olive Trees dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (1994, 103 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
A beautiful film by Abbas Kiarostami. Very sweet natured, full of warmth and humanity and shows that persistence in love may pay dividends. Kiarostami shot this film in the Northern part of Iran, the same region that he filmed the "Where's Friend's Home?" and "Life and Nothing More"
And Life Goes On dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (1992, 95 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
In the aftermath of the 1990 earthquake in Iran that left fifty thousand dead, Abbas Kiarostami returned to Koker, where his camera surveys not only devastation but also the teeming life in its wake. Blending fiction and reality into a playful, poignant road movie, AND LIFE GOES ON follows a film director who, along with his son, makes the trek to the region in hopes of finding out if the young boys who acted in WHERE IS THE FRIEND’S HOUSE? are among the survivors, and discovers a resilient community pressing on in the face of tragedy. Finding beauty in the bleakest of circumstances, Kiarostami crafts a quietly majestic ode to the best of the human spirit.
Close-Up dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (1990, 98 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
Internationally revered Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has created some of the most inventive and transcendent cinema of the past thirty years, and Close-up is his most radical, brilliant work. This fiction-documentary hybrid uses a sensational real-life event—the arrest of a young man on charges that he fraudulently impersonated the well-known filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf—as the basis for a stunning, multi-layered investigation into movies, identity, artistic creation, and existence, in which the real people from the case play themselves. With its universal themes and fascinating narrative knots, Close-up has resonated with viewers around the world.
Where is the Friend's House? dir. by Abbas Kiarostami (1987, 83 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
The first film in Abbas Kiarostami’s sublime, interlacing KOKER TRILOGY takes a simple premise—a boy searches for the home of his classmate, whose school notebook he has accidentally taken—and transforms it into a miraculous, child’s-eye adventure of the everyday. As our young hero zigzags determinedly across two towns, aided (and sometimes misdirected) by those he encounters, his quest becomes both a revealing portrait of rural Iranian society in all its richness and complexity and a touching parable about the meaning of personal responsibility. Sensitive and profound, WHERE IS THE FRIEND’S HOUSE? is shot through with all the beauty, tension, and wonder a single day can contain.
The Report dir. by Abbas Kiarostami 1977, 110 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
The rare early Kiarostami film made outside of Kanoon, and one of the most downbeat of his features, this adult drama concerns a civil servant besieged on two fronts: he’s accused of taking bribes, and his marriage is collapsing (Kiarostami has admitted this latter element was autobiographical). Full of prerevolutionary disquiet, the film features future star Shohreh Aghdashloo as the wife. This extremely rare film, director Abbas Kiarostami’s second feature, was encoded from the only surviving element: an old analog video master made from a subtitled theatrical print that was damaged from heavy use. According to Kiarostami, the original negative was destroyed during the Iranian Revolution.
The Traveler dir. by Abbas Kiarostami 1974, 83 min., Iran) In Persian with English subtitles
Abbas Kiarostami’s first feature focuses on a boy in a provincial city so avid to get to Tehran to see a soccer match that he’ll lie to adults and cheat other kids. A quest film that’s also a study of youthful obsession, it’s filmed in edgy black and white with a quiet energy that matches its hero’s. THE TRAVELER has an acridly ironic ending and one of the best performances by a child in Kiarostami’s early work.