One of the world’s most famous auteurs and directors, and a Cannes Palme d’Or winner, Abbass Kiarostami passed away last night.
Kiarostami had been hospitalized in Jam Hospital in Tehran for some time and had undergone several operations, but had recently flown to Paris to undergo further treatment.
It is as yet unclear what complications caused his demise but different reports have reported that he was fighting with cancer while other reports deny this.
He was born in Tehran and after winning a painting competition at the age of 18 decided to continue his studies at Tehran University School of Fine Arts.
He continued to work as a graphic designer in the 1960s, designing posters and creating commercials, after which he started creating credit titles for films, including “Gheysar” by Massoud Kimiai.
He was one of the precursors of the Iranian New Wave of cinema alongside others such as Dariush Mehrjui, Masoud Kimiay, Nasser Taqvai, Ebrahim Golestan, Sohrab Shahid Saless, Bahram Beizai, and Parviz Kimiavi.
He continued creating short films in the 1970s and early 1980s, after which came his string of successful feature films, including “Where Is the Friend’s Home?”, “And Life Goes On”, and “Through the Olive Trees”, or what film critics describe as the Koker trilogy, because all three films feature the village of Koker in northern Iran.
He received his first major international award for “Where is the Friend’s Home?” in 1989 at the Locarno Film Festival.
His film “Close-Up” Ranked #42 in British Film Institute’s The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time, and received praise from directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, Jean-Luc Godard, and Nanni Moretti and was released across Europe.
A work of art doesn’t exist outside the perception of the audience.
An avid believer in the power of poetry, he made extremely sensitive films where themes of life and death, modernity and tradition, and some social conscience manifest them self.
Kiarostami won the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) award at the Cannes Film Festival for “Taste of Cherry“, which is the story of a man determined to commit suicide, without the viewer ever finding out why he desires to do so.
He has received several international awards including the Jury Special Prize for “The Wind Will Carry Us” at the 56th Venice International Film Festival, Officier de la Légion d’honneur from Ministry of Culture and Art of France, and “Taste of Cherry” selected as the Best Foreign Film of the Year by the National Society of Film Critics, USA.
In order to be universal, you have to be rooted in your own culture.
Jean- Luc Godard once said, “Cinema starts with DW Griffith and ends with Abbas Kiarostami.”
He is survived by two sons, Ahmad and Bahman, from his marriage to Parvin Amir-Gholi, which ended in divorce in 1982.
We present our condolences to his family, the international cinematic community, and the Iranian public who will mourn the passing of such a prolific director.
I have no advice for anyone on how to live.
Although it is natural to be saddened by the departure of such a creative visionary, personally I will try to cherish his life and memory as a human being who brought more value to the people than he had received from them. I think we should all try to emulate personalities like Kiarostami who have the courage to follow their passion and live life more fully.
He has influenced generations of film-makers, writers, and cinema lovers and I hope that we can all strive to be more than we are at present, in any field or industry that we love.
As a recent believer in the fact that it is better to try and find the right questions rather than the right answers, the following quote from Mr. Kiarostami touched me particularly:
Cinema seats make people lazy. They expect to be given all the information. But for me, question marks are the punctuation of life.
May his works live on in our memories, may we learn from his accomplishments, and may he rest in peace amid the olive trees.