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TitleThe Cinema Of Abbas Kiarostami
ISBN 139780863565946
CategoryArts - Film
File Size10.7 MB
Total Pages301
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Alberto Elena

The Cinema of


Translated from the Spanish by
Belinda Coombes

in association with

Iran Heritage Foundation

Page 2

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN 0 86356 594 8
EAN 9 780863 565946

Copyright © Alberto Elena 2005
English translation © Belinda Coombes 2005

Original edition: Abbas Kiarostami (Madrid, Ediciones Câtedra, 2002)

The right of Alberto Elena to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by
him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988

This edition first published 2005

26 Westbourne Grove

London W2 5RH

in association with
Iran Heritage Foundat ion

PO Box 2256, London Wl A 7QQ

Page 150

The Cinema of Abbas Kiarostami

far from disappearing once Khatami became President, has
continued to manifest itself in constant and varied ways right up
to the present day, for example the angry and forceful response by
Mohsen Makhmalbaf to the imprisonment of the mayor of Tehran,
Gholamhossein Karbaschi, or the election of another film-maker,
Behruz Afkhami, as a member of Parliament for the progressive
Participation Front in the elections of February 2000. But above all,
it was the appointment of Ataollah Mohajerani - a respected and
admired figure in professional cinema circles - as the new Minister
of Culture and Islamic Guidance and of Seifollah Daad himself
as Deputy Minister for Film Affairs that gives the real measure
of the obvious similarity of views between the new government
and leading figures of the Iranian film-making community.

In December 1997, just four months after Khatami took up
office as the President of the Republic, the conference of the Islamic
Organization held in Tehran gave him the first great opportunity to
progress his idea of'dialogue between civilizations' (mainly designed
to re-establish relations with the United States and, to a lesser extent,
with the European Union); it was soon quashed, however, by the
Leader of the Revolution, Ali Khamenei, and the ultraconservative
factions of the regime. The conflict between a progressive government
and a Parliament that was still dominated by the conservatives was
felt in other areas, and that same month saw the breakout in the
holy city of Qom of what came to be known as 'the war of the
Ayatollahs', which in fact was a bitter debate about the nature of
loyalty to the principles of the Islamic Revolution and its Supreme
Leader. The film world also felt the effects of these early political
tensions; the decision by the Minister of Culture to authorize the
showing of The Snowman (Adarn-e barfi, Davud Mirbagheri, 1994),
a straightforward comedy based on the adventures of a man who
dresses up as a woman to try to get a visa for the United States,
which had been suppressed for several years by the Iranian censors,
provoked an immediate boycott by numerous conservative militants
who picketed cinemas. A firm response by the authorities nevertheless
put an end to the conflict, although it was only the beginning of a
long series of skirmishes and confrontations that are far from over.97


Page 151

To Live

Indeed, the conservative backlash intensified after the spring
of 1998 with the prosecution of the mayor of Tehran on charges
of corruption, the campaign against the Home Office Minister
Abdullah Nuri on the grounds of the alleged lack of public safety
in the country (he was removed from office in June after a vote of
no confidence in Parliament) and the start of a programme to close
down many progressive publications under the most varied and
inconsistent pretexts (among these was the daily paper Salam) in
July 1999. The latter immediately gave rise to serious confrontations
between students claiming the right of free expression and the police,
attacks on reformist writers, the arrest of journalists with government
connections, etc. — all well-known events, which nevertheless
constitute the sensitive background to an extraordinary dynamism
within the cinema industry. For proof we need look no further than
the frequent and striking presence of Iranian films at important
international festivals and on cinema screens all over the world.

One of the first policies adopted by Khatami's government vis-à-
vis the cinema industry was undoubtedly the gradual relaxation of
censorship. The authorization to screen The Snowman was not an
isolated case, but in fact reflected the firm intention of the authorities
to facilitate - as far as possible within existing strict guidelines -
working conditions within the industry and to bring out a number
of films for public exhibition that had been banned some years
previously. 'We must always remember that we are not the leaders
of the cinema industry, but simply its managers', declared Seifollah
Daad repeatedly as a kind of guiding principle for film-makers in
what was hoped would be a new era of freedom for the country.98

Thus not only Taste of Cherry presumably benefited from the new
tolerance, but also films such as the excellent Dance of Dust {Raghs-e
khak, Abolfazl Jalili, 1992) and The Lady (Banu, Dariush Mehrjui,
1992, a singular remake of Viridiana) were finally screened in 1998.
Despite this, other equally deserving and appropriate films remain
in obscurity: for example, two other films by Yalili, Dety Means
Girl (Detyani dokhtar, 1994) and A True Story (Yek dastan-e vaghei,
1995), not to mention even older films such as Time of Love (Nobat-e
asheghi) and Nights on the Zayandeh Rud {Shabha-ye Zayandeh Rud),


Page 300


Nabili, Marva 42
Naderi, Amir 16, 22-3, 40-2, 55,

Nancy, Jean-Luc 126-7
The Night it Rained 91
Nights on the Zayandeh Rud

122-3, 146
Niney, Francois 90
Nuri, Abdullah 145

One More Day 146, 148
Orderly or Disorderly? 31-3, 36,

48, 56, 90, 202
Oubina, David 71, 108, 114-16,

Ozu, Yasujiro 181

Pahlavi, Mohammad Reza 49
Painting 200
Panahi, Jafar 119-20, 146, 148
Payami, Babak 146, 148
Perez, Gilberto 88, 188
Pôntecorvo, Gillo 51, 123
The Postman 16
Price, Michael 140-3
The Project 122

Rafi, Hassan 24
Rahimian, Behzad 78
Raisian, Reza 92, 119
Rajai, Mohammad Ali 50
Ray, Satyajit72, 106, 186
Rebirth 162
Red 147-8
The Report 29, 40, 43-7, 106, 121,

128, 133-4, 156,200-1
Requiem 42
Reza, the Motorcyclist 15
Rollet, Sylvie 187
Romney, Jonathan 183
Rosenbaum, Jonathan 95, 100, 156


Roshanravan, Kambiz 90
Roth, Laurent 19, 58, 71,77
Roy, Olivier 136-7
Ruiz, Raûl 120
Rumi, Jalaluddin 75-6, 90, 190,

The Runner 55, 70

Sabzian, Hossein 82-90
Saedi, Gholam Hossein 40-1
Salam Cinema 91
Saless, Sohrab Shahid 16, 23, 41,

47,70, 121,146,190
Samadian, Seifollah 168-72
Sanjabi, Karim 45
Satan s Temptation 15
Sciolino, Elaine 189
Sealed Land 42
Sepehri, Sohrab 72-4, 77, 79,

96-7,151, 162, 190-2
Shah of Iran 37-8, 41, 43, 46, 49
Shahbazi, Parviz 120
Shamlu, Ahmad 133, 190
Shayegan, Dariush 74
Shibata, Takao 167-8
Shirdel, Kamran 91
Shirvanlu, Firuz 18
The Silence 146
A Simple Event 16, 23, 41, 70
Sinai, Khosro 148
Sleepers 182,209
Smell of Camphor, Scent of

Jasmine 146
The Snowman 144-5
So Can 131, 198-9
Solution No. 7 34-6,201
The Song of the Road 72
Still Life 41
The Stranger and the Fog 41
Strangers 148
A Suit for the Wedding 21, 28-9,

Page 301


71, 199
ai-Sultan, Fawzi H. 168
Sweet Agony 148

Taghvai, Nasser 40-1, 44, 79
Tahereh s Dreams 118-19
Tangsir 22, 41
Tarkovski, Andrei 54
Taste of Cherry 92, 108, 122-17,


Tati, Jacques 186
Tehran, the 25th Hour 169
Ten 174-81, 185, 195,210
Ten Minutes Older 182, 210
10 on Ten 180-3,210-11
The Tenants 54
Tesson, Charles 151-2, 156, 162
Thoraval, Yves 57-8
Through the Olive Trees 106-16,

118-19, 152,156,159, 185-6,

Tickets 211
A Time to Love 90, 146
Tobin, Yann 103
Toothache 30, 48, 59, 201-2
Tranquility in the Presence of

Others 41,44
The Traveller 20-1, 24-9, 40, 62,

Tribute to the Teacher 37, 59, 200

A True Story 145
Tusi, Javad 104
Two Solutions for One Problem

30-2, 198
Two Women 148

Under the City s Skin 148

Vampyr 139
Vigo, Jean 120-1
Viridiana 145
The Vote is Secret 146-7

Walsh, David 130, 133, 137, 166
Warhol, Andy 57
Where is the Friends s House? 18,

36,67-81,87-95, 102-8, 151,

The White Balloon 119-20, 146
The White Season 169
The Wind Will Carry Us 97, 133,

148, 150-67, 172, 177, 185,

The Window 15


Zarrin, Ali Reza 55
Zarrindast, Mohammad 15
Zipoli, Riccardo 191

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