Dreaming, scheming, never growing old: remembering Abbas Kiarostami (1940 – 2016)
Joobin Bekhrad is the Founder and Editor of REORIENT, as well as the Co-Founder of artclvb, an online platform for contemporary Middle Eastern art. He is also the author of a new translation of Omar Khayyam’s poems from Persian into English.
I didn’t grow up with Kiarostami’s films. I discovered Abbas Kiarostami long after he’d become Kiarostami, during the same time that I began devouring everything having to do with Iranian culture. I vaguely remember visiting the Film Museum off of Vali-ye Asr Avenue in Tehran with my friend one hot summer’s day, when I was around 16 years old. I had no idea who the man in the sunglasses was, only that he was of significance where Iranian cinema was concerned. To people like my friend (a film buff now working in the industry in Iran), directors like Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and Dariush Mehrjui were demigods, not mere mortals; they had set the gold standard for Iranian art house cinema, and all and sundry took their cues from them. I remember hearing Kiarostami’s name more than anyone else’s though; it was he, apparently, who headed the pantheon of Iran’s great post-Revolution directors. It therefore only seemed natural that when beginning my foray into the seemingly endless ocean of Iranian cinema, I’d begin with his films. I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, but as long as Kiarostami’s name was on the tin, I knew I was in good company.
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