e-book Abbas Kiarostami (Contemporary Film Directors)

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The Paradox at the Heart of Abbas Kiarostami’s Early Films

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About this Item: University of Illinois Press , Seller Inventory DR Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Yet Kiarostami, the most influential filmmaker of post-revolutionary Iran, has produced a body of work that is as rooted in contemporary Iran as it is universal in appeal. Respected cinema historian Alberto Elena has used Iranian sources wherever possible and sought to frame Kiarostami's oeuvre within the context of the rich artistic and intellectual Persian tradition that has nourished the director.

He examines his blending of fiction and reality, and his recurring themes of death, meaning in life, isolation, solidarity and the lives of women. Kiarostami's career, from his early days as an illustrator and graphic designer to his current master-status, is also explored - his adverts, short films, documentaries and features, as well as his collaborations, influences and critical reception both in Iran and internationally.

The creative boldness of Kiarostami's work is matched by a structural precision that is virtually unparalleled in modern-day cinema.

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Elena's retrospective shows exactly how this most Iranian of directors has also come to assume a place in the pantheon of international cinema. Kiarostami and his countrymen and women took that further. The division between art and reality was constantly being straddled, or erased altogether; the frisson made it feel as though the screen was buzzing.

It was a groundbreaking mode of artistic expression and the first new genre since the mockumentary. Makhmalbaf himself challenged distinctions between art and reality in his finest film, A Moment of Innocence , in which he reconstructs the events leading up to the stabbing of a policeman.

Open Conversation with Abbas Kiarostami

In fact, it was the youthful Makhmalbaf himself who committed that crime, and served time for it. Both he and his victim appear in the picture. No explanation, motivation, back-story: just a series of conversations conducted in his car as he drives. But in Taste of Cherry , the driver and his passengers are not seen in the same shot because Kiarostami himself took the part of the driver during filming, engaging his passengers all played by non-professionals in conversation, with shots of his main actor inserted afterwards.

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Perhaps that is why it feels like such a dislocated, distant film, with none of the playfulness found in his earlier work. In , there was And Life Goes On , also known as Life, and Nothing More… , in which a filmmaker returns to the earthquake-damaged site of his previous film; this was followed in by Through the Olive Trees , another film-about-filmmaking, which uses as its springboard the making of a scene in the previous movie about a couple.

There was, in my opinion, a hardening in his style in recent work. Shirin was comprised entirely of close-ups of women as they sit in a cinema watching a film based on a 12th - century Persian poem about two ill-fated lovers. We can hear the other movie throughout—the dialogue and music, the galloping hooves and clanging swords.

The Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, who died yesterday at the age of seventy-six, was simply one of the most original and influential directors in the history of cinema. He achieved something that few filmmakers ever have: he seemed to create a national identity with his own cinematic style. He was the first Iranian filmmaker who expanded the history of cinema not merely in a sociological sense but in an artistic one, and his tenacious, bold, restless originality—an inventive audacity that carried through to his two last features, made outside of Iran—focussed the attention of the world on the Iranian cinema and opened the Iranian cinema to other directors who have followed his path.

Art is born of a confluence of temperament and circumstances.

Yet he also seemed to thrive on conflict, arising from his over-all sense of resistance to authority and defiance of norms, which he expressed subtly but decisively in dramatic action and in cinematic form. He was one of the greatest ironists and symbolists in the history of cinema, bringing out grand philosophical ideas and depicting independent-minded characters, while nonetheless apparently deferring to imposed conventions and expectations. In the nineteen-seventies, Kiarostami made his earliest films under the auspices of the Kanun, or Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults.