The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced today a rare chance to take in the full measure of a master filmmaker with A CLOSE-UP OF ABBAS KIAROSTAMI from tonight, February 8-17. The series will include 10 days of sublime shorts, his earlier work as a documentarian and a selection of narratives through a stunning string of films in the 1990s through to the present day. The Film Society of Lincoln Center will also open Kiarostami's latest masterpiece, LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE (A Sundance Selects release) theatrically on Friday, February 15.
FSLC's Director of Programming, Year-Round, Robert Koehler, says, "It is with great pleasure that the Film Society of Lincoln Center presents A Close-Up of Abbas Kiarostami. Fittingly coinciding with the public release of his latest sublime work, LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE, which we just screened and celebrated at this year's NYFF, this retrospective offers a comprehensive look at a filmmaker who has excelled as a cinema artist working in all forms--fiction, non-fiction and shorts. Few living filmmakers deserve such a comprehensive and thorough survey."
LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE is a mysterious and beguiling romantic drama, which once again finds him playfully blurring the line between fiction and cinematic construct. When Akiko (Rin Takanashi), a lovely Tokyo student who moonlights as a call girl, is dispatched to a new client in the suburbs, she is surprised to find the shy and elderly Takashi (81-year-old stage actor Tadashi Okuno), a committed academic constantly distracted by work-related phone calls. The lonely widower seems far more interested in playing house than having sex, however, and the young woman soon falls asleep. The next day, when the two encounter Akiko's volatile boyfriend Noriaki (Ryo Kase), Takashi plays into Noriaki's assumption that he is actually Akiko's grandfather. As the three settle into their new roles, Takashi finds himself becoming the protector that Akiko so desperately needs.
Abbas Kiarostami was born on 22 June 1940 in Tehran, Iran. He showed a keen interest in drawing early on and, at age 18, entered a graphic-art contest and won. He studied at then fine arts school in Tehran whilst making ends meet as a graphic designer, poster illustrator and commercial ad director. In 1969, he founded the cinema department of the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children & Young Adults, which is also where he directed his first short films.
In his first film, The Bread and The Alley (1970), Kiarostami explores the weight of images and the relationship of realism and fiction. His preferred theme, the universe of childhood, is expressed over a long series of short, medium length and feature films, during which he has managed to establish a subtle balance between narrative and documentary style. Homework (1989), his last childhood film, is a good example of warm and poetic cinema that discreetly denounces the heavy aspects of Iranian society.
With Close-Up (1990), he turned a page. In less than one week, the director embraced a news story and, with the participation of the real life protagonists, made it a pretext to introduce reality into the realm of fiction. Life And Nothing More (1992) and Through The Olive Trees (1994) complete a trilogy that began with Where Is My Friend's House? (1990). In the latter, the devastating effects of an earthquake in northern Iran serve to uncover the lie that is cinema.
Taste Of Cherry (1997) marked the director's coming into his own, and his entry into the ranks of award winners. The film, which tells the story of a 50-year-old man's obsession with suicide, is an ode to individual freedom. The film was praised by critics and denounced by religious authorities in Iran. A slow and contemplative pace, limited intrigue, and references to Persian poetry and Western philosophy are the trademarks of this deeply original director's work. His taste for improvisation is grounded in loosely written scripts, amateur actors, and his own editing. The Wind Will Carry Us (1999), the story of a group of city dwellers who go to find something in a rural village, is yet another example of his unique style. The film was also his first creative collaboration with Marin Karmitz and MK2.
Since 2001, Kiarostami has been involved in a love affair with a small camera and, as a result, works only with digital film. He has gained more freedom with this «camerapen» of his and has with its help, directed several nature films of varying lengths, between fiction and documentary: ABC Africa (2001), Ten (2002), Five Dedicated To Ozu (2003), 10 on Ten (2004), Roads of Kiarostami (2005) and Shirin (2008).
With Certified Copy in 2009, Kiarostami comes back through fiction to a bigger production and shoots for The First Time out of Iran - in Tuscany - with an international cast. Juliette Binoche received the Best Actress award during Cannes Festival where the film was presented in the Official Competition. After Italy, Like Someone In Love, a production similar to Certified Copy, brings Abbas Kiarostami to Japan, a new universe to discover.
FILMS, DESCRIPTIONS & SCHEDULE
Abbas Kiarostami, 2001, Iran; 85m
Invited by the U.N. shortly after the turn of the century to document the fate of Uganda's nearly two million AIDS orphans, Kiarostami turns his first feature shot on video into a reflective work that considers his own position as a privileged filmmaker in impoverished circumstances-not unlike the central characters in several of his previous films, from Life and Nothing More to The Wind Will Carry Us. Made over ten days, this journey uncovers an indomitable life force in the children, their joy conveyed by a nearly goofy looseness in front of the camera, and group performances that can't help but transfix the viewer.
*FEB. 17, 4:30PM
Certified Copy/Copie confirme
Abbas Kiarostami, 2012, France/Italy, 35mm; 106m
On paper, Abbas Kiarostami's return to narrative filmmaking after a decade of experimental video projects seems a risky proposition: a French production, filmed on location in Tuscany, with a European cast speaking in a mixture of English, French and Italian. But in fact, this close-up study of a relationship is a dazzling return to form. An antiques dealer (Juliette Binoche) and a philosopher (British opera star William Shimell) appear to meet for The First Time following one of his lectures, but soon we begin to suspect that there is more to this couple than meets the eye. Are they in fact husband and wife engaging in an elaborate charade? Or is Kiarostami showing us the beginning, middle, and end of a marriage in something other than chronological order? Nimbly juggling reality with cinematic illusion, and anchored by Binoche's emotionally naked performance (Best Actress, Cannes), Certified Copy is a stimulating and provocative Kiarostami coup. A Sundance Selects release.
* FRI. FEB 15, 4:15PM; SAT. FEB 16, 6:15PM
Abbas Kiarostami, 1990, Iran, 35mm; 98m
A young man introduces himself as Mohsen Makhmalbaf, among the most celebrated directors of 1990s Iranian cinema, and enters intimately into the life of a family, and enters intimately into the life of a family under the pretext that he's scouting locations for a new film project. Deeply suspicious of the stranger, the father investigates his houseguest, leading to the con man's exposure and arrest. At this stage, Kiarostami and his real-life film crew enter the story to film the Makhmalbaf imposter's trial. Events preceding the young man's arrest are dramatized and reconstructed, but with the real people "playing" themselves. A masterful exploration of the nature of truth and cinematic illusion with a distinctly off-beat sense of humor, Close-Up has been widely hailed as one of Kiarostami's crowning achievements and one of the greatest films of the 1990s.
*FRI. FEB 8, 6:15PM; TUES. FEB 12, 4:00PM; SUN. FEB 17, 4:15PM
Abbas Kiarostami, 1973, Iran; 60m
Kiarostami's first feature deepens and extends his fascination with the lives of children and teens that he launched with his early shorts produced by Iran's The Center for Intellectual Developments of Children and Young People. A young orphan boy works where he sleeps, in a photography shop, which becomes an arena for his growing fascination with a more mature, middle-class girl. He ultimately clashes with the adults around him, even as he hopes to enter into their world-symbolically by practicing smoking cigarettes in a cinema. The film prefigures many of Kiarostami's developing concerns, including an acute sense of precise imagery (the director being a still photographer himself), the conflicts between childhood aspirations and adult disappointments, and the art of storytelling with as few words as possible.
The Wedding Suit/Lebasi Bara-ye Arusi
Abbas Kiarostami, 1976, Iran; 57m
Pressured by two of his street kid pals, a young tailor's apprentice loans out a wedding suit intended for a spoiled lad, to be picked up by his mother the following day. Kiarostami combines his increasingly complex and witty perspective on the lives of kids scraping to get by in an adult world with an eye for suspense: What's this suit actually being used for by the boys, and will it be returned in time for the wedding? Subtly drawn class contrasts and the symbolic weight of an iconic object-the suit itself-underlines Kiarostami's ever-developing skills at observation and spare, exact storytelling.
*SUN. FEB 10, 1:30pm
Abbas Kiarostami, 1983, Iran; 52m
Caught up in Tehran's insane bottlenecks and gridlock, a traffic cop tries to enforce the rules and regulations. Having done so, he then proceeds to demonstrate the flexibility of the law and the flexibility of...the traffic cop himself! Kiarostami, who was a traffic cop in his own youth, exploits the situation's maximum comic possibilities in this disarming documentary portrait.
Abbas Kiarostami, 1980, Iran; 23m
From father to son, dental hygene has always been neglected in Mohamed Reza's family. Result: his father and grandfather both wear dentures. Mohamed himself is overcome with a violent toothache that leads to him being dismissed from school and sent to the hospital, where a specialist gives some sage advice in the art of dental care.
*SAT. FEB 16, 4:30pm
Abbas Kiarostami, 1985, Iran; 85m
An Iranian elementary school in the mid-1980s: whenever a conflict breaks out, the students involved are sent to the principal, who questions them in order so that each may recognize his share of the blame. We follow the procession of students who've been caught being disruptive, fighting or calling each other names. The same ritual (questions, confession, repentance) is repeated with some variations and intercut by Kiarostami with another highly ritualized process: the daily 15 minutes of morning gymnastics!
Solution No. 1/Rah-e hal 1
Abbas Kiarostami, 1978, Iran, 16mm; 11m
A youth trying to hitchhike back to his car with a new tire in tow can't get a ride even on a heavily traveled road. Fed up, he decides to walk, rolling the tire ahead of him. His journey takes him through a countryside so lovely he arrives at his destination utterly enchanted.
*SAT. FEB 9, 2:30pm
Five Dedicated to Ozu
Abbas Kiarostami, 2003, France/Iran/Japan; 54m
One of Kiarostami's most daring experiments and his first work to explore the creative possibilities of video, this film comprises five sections, all in fixed continuous shots focusing on moments with microscopic detail. The camera trains on driftwood floating in the water, or human passersby at the beach crossing paths with ducks, or a finale landscape before dawn where slivers of light become the stuff of pure visual drama.
Roads of Kiarostami
Abbas Kiarostami, 2006, Iran, HDCAM; 32m
*THURS. FEB 14, 8:45pm
Abbas Kiarostami, 1989, Iran; 86m
According to Kiarostami, Homework is not a film, but rather a filmed inquiry motivated by the nettlesome problems his own children brought home every night from school. In the delightful result, young scholars are questioned on camera by Kiarostami himself: backs to the wall, framed in close-up, they face the camera and talk about excessive amounts of homework, the allure of TV cartoons, and the punishment that results from temptation.
Abbas Kiarostami, 1972, Iran; 10m
Punished for having Smashed a window with his ball, a child has to stand in the school hallway. When school lets out, he heads home but finds his way blocked by a football match. He manages to get through, but then follows a bumpy road that leads him to the outskirts of the city.
*SAT. FEB 9, 4:30pm
Life and Nothing More.../Zendegi va digar hich
Abbas Kiarostami, 1992, Iran, 35mm; 95m
After the earthquake that devastated Northern Iran in 1990, a filmmaker and his son try to drive to the village of Koker, located in the heart of the region. Searching for the two young actors who played in his film, Where is the Friend's Home?, the Kiarostami surrogate runs into all sorts of difficulties as he shows still pictures from the film to passersby in the hope of locating the lost boys. At last, the artist comes to understand that life, even in the shadow of disaster, reels splendidly on...
*FEB. 10, 6PM; FEB. 13, 6:30PM
Abbas Kiarostami, 1977, Iran; 112 m
During a period in his career focused on children and their deceptively complicated lives, Kiarostami pivots his camera to the lives of a married couple. The husband is woefully beset with problems, seemingly everywhere he looks. As a tax collector, he's already burdened with unenviable tasks and responsibilities. But to this, he must add accusations that he's receiving bribes. Even worse, at home his wife-who's rarely seen in the same frame with her husband-is considering suicide. The film features Shohreh Aghdashloo in one of her first screen roles.
*SAT. FEB 9, 8:30pm
Episode from Tickets
Abbas Kiarostami, 2005, Italy/UK, Digibeta; TKm
Abbas Kiarostami, 2010, France, HDCAM; 8m
Abbas Kiarostami, 2006, Iran, DVD; 10m
Abbas Kiarostami, 2009, Iran, HDCAM; 92m
Over 100 Iranian female actors of the stage and screen, and one notable European star, are observed as they witness the (off-screen and thus unseen, but heard) performance of a live drama based on a 12th century work by Nazami Ganjavi, The Master of romantic epic Persian poetry. There's an unmistakable link, for Western viewers at least, to Shakespeare in both the play's thematic anticipation of the tragedy of doomed young love in Romeo and Juliet and the way Kiarostami honors the place and power of actors. Co-stars Juliette Binoche.
*SAT. FEB 16, 8:30pm
Taste of Cherry
Abbas Kiarostami, 1997, Iran, 35mm; 99m
In his dust-covered Range Rover, Mr. Badii (Homayon Ershadi) winds up and down the rocky mountain passes in Tehran's outskirts. He is searching for someone to perform a simple task-to come to a specified location the following morning and throw 12 spades of dirt on top of a shallow grave in which he will be lying. It is a job, in a country where religion and politics are so delicately interwoven, for which there are few eager applicants. From this deceptively simple scenario, Kiarostami creates a remarkable contemplation on the small miracles of everyday life and the elusive nature of happiness--a patient, poetic and profoundly beautiful work that confirmed its director as one of the masters of modern world cinema. Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.
*FRI. FEB 8, 8:30pm; MON. FEB 11, 3:30pm; SUN. FEB 17, 6:30pm
Abbas Kiarostami, 2002, France/Iran/USA, 35mm; 91m
The set-up in this elegant and engrossing Kiarostami experiment is deceptively simple: over a period of days, a woman ferries passengers by car from one place to another in Tehran. Among them are her young son, who can't grumble and complain enough about her, and five very different women. The ramifications of these journeys, however, are anything but elementary, since the women traverse and express the emotional and political breadth and depth of Iranian modernity. The entire film takes place within the car, a formal conceit that gains deep metaphoric resonance as each woman reveals a bit of her life and, in turn, life for Iranian women.
*FRI. FEB 15, 6:30pm
10 ON 10
Abbas Kiarostami, 2004, Iran/France, video; 88m (Zeitgeist)
Kiarostami further explores his new-found fascination with digital video as he returns to the locations of his international breakthrough hit The Wind Will Carry Us. Always an artist unafraid of turning the camera on himself-or at least an alter-ego-he carries on a kind of dialogue with the audience, egging them on to ask questions about the cinema and its purposes, either as a means to uncover a new reality, or as a powerful way of telling a story. In his inimitable way, the filmmaker's questions only open up further questions.
*FRI. FEB 15, 8:30pm
Through the Olive Trees
Abbas Kiarostami, 1994, Iran/France. 35mm; 103m
In the second part of Kiarostami's lauded "Koker" trilogy, a filmmaker went looking for the stars of his previous film in a remote, earthquake-devastated mountain region, learning about life from the people he met along the way. In the trilogy's magnificent concluding chapter, Kiarostami looks at the making of the second film, Life and Nothing More..., from the same remove, evoking an Iranian variation on Truffaut's seminal movie-about-moviemaking, Day For Night. A lovely comedy of moviemaking errors, Through the Olive Trees revolves around the romance between a local stonemason, cast as an actor in the film-within-the-film, who continues to doggedly pursue his leading lady long after the cameras have stopped rolling.
*SUN. FEB 10, 8:00pm; THURS. FEB 14, 6:30pm
Abbas Kiarostami, 1974, Iran, 35mm; 83m
Kiarostami's first full-length feature (following the hour-long The Experience) depicts the adventures of a resourceful but amoral 10-year-old boy, Qasem, who will stop at nothing to see the Iranian national football team play an important match at a stadium in Tehran. By stealing money from his parents, swindling his schoolmates, and selling off his own football team's gear, he manages to finance a ticket and traveling expenses. But the trip that ensues doesn't quite go according to plan.
Bread and Alley/Nanva kucheh
Abbas Kiarostami, 1970, Iran, 35mm; 10m
In this wordless, Chaplin-esque Kiarostami short, a small boy makes his way home clutching a loaf of bread. In an alley, he finds a stray dog blocking his way. Stymied, the boy tries to follow an old man, who sets off in the wrong direction. So, the boy is forced to confront his canine antagonist.
*SAT. FEB 9, 6:30; WED. FEB 13, 4:30pm
Where Is the Friend's Home?/Khane-ye doust kodjast?
Abbas Kiarostami, 1987, Iran, 35mm; 83m
Kiarostami first rose to international prominence with a modernist, humane trilogy of films set in and around the Iranian village of Koker, before and after a devastating earthquake there. Reflecting the director's multilayered engagement with cinema-and the audience-the trilogy begins with this lyrical tale of a schoolboy's journey to return a notebook belonging to his best friend. Kiarostami frequently uses children as protagonists, and his treatment of them is always enlightening: through them, he embraces the human condition in general. Though these kids' worlds are almost mystically charged with significance, they are also couched in a wry tone of comic realism. The simple, lyrical tale of Where is the Friend's Home is drawn from a poem by poet-philosopher Sohrab Sepehri, whose subject encounters places and moments of great beauty and wonder.
Two Solutions for One Problem/Dorah-e hai baraye yek massaleh
Abbas Kiarostami, 1975, Iran, 35mm; 4m
Two young boys are classmates; when Nader returns his friend's notebook, the cover of which he has accidentally torn, the other is faced with two possibilities. Either he can quickly take revenge, or the two can both look for a solution involving glue and a little ingenuity.
*SUN. FEB 10, 4:00pm; TUES. FEB 12, 9:00pm
The Wind Will Carry Us
Abbas Kiarostami, 1999, Iran/France, 35mm; 118m
Kiarostami's masterpiece about a Tehrani camera crew posing as engineers to film the funeral of a 100-year-old village woman expected to die at any moment, marks a culmination of the filmmaker's desire for a cinema that encourages the viewer, in his words, "to complete the film." In a string of sequences that flow and blend into each other, the interactions between the outsiders functioning under certain false pretenses and the locals trying to go about their own lives isn't a formula for facile conflict, but rather the premise for a profound meditation on existence spanning centuries of culture and human activity. Winner of the 1999 Venice Film Festival's Silver Lion.
*WED. FEB 13, 8:30pm; FRI. FEB 15, 4:00pm; SUN. FEB 17, 8:30pm
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