TRIBUTE TO ABBAS KIAROSTAMI
A towering figure in the Iranian film community and one of the preeminent world cinema auteurs of the past three decades, Abbas Kiarostami (1940–2016) was the recipient of numerous international honors, as well as accolades from many fellow directors. That said, what endears Kiarostami’s work to so many viewers isn’t some inaccessible loftiness, but rather his humane affinity with ordinary, relatable lives. This touring retrospective, featuring new restorations as well as previously unavailable work (and also with an extensive program at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley), reacquaints us with the master’s warmly contemplative style. Emphasizing ambiguity over contrivance, these gently mischievous films already are aging very gracefully, with stories so distilled that their simplicity becomes newly mysterious. Revisited together today, they shed new light on an enduring cinematic legacy.
Kiarostami Foundation founder Ahmad Kiarostami in attendance at select screenings and in person for Q&A on Saturday, August 17 after Where is the Friend’s House?
Co-presented by Diaspora Arts Connection.
General admission for individual screenings is $13 / Senior $9. Free or discounted for Roxie members.
All passes are available online until supplies last. Passes will also be available at the box office on screening days.
Saturday, August 3
Through The Olive Trees – 4pm
Kiarostami takes meta-narrative gamesmanship to masterful new heights in the final installment of his celebrated Koker trilogy. Unfolding “behind the scenes” of the shooting of the previous film in the series, And Life Goes On…, Through the Olive Trees traces the complications that arise when the romantic misfortune of one of the actors—a lovelorn young man who pines for the woman cast as his wife even though, in real life, she will have nothing to do with him—creates turmoil on set and leaves the hapless director caught in the middle. An ineffably lovely, gentle human comedy steeped in the folkways of Iranian village life, this Pirandellian pastoral peels away layer after layer of artifice as it investigates the elusive, alchemical relationship between cinema and reality. Iran. 1994. 103 min. DCP.
Close-Up ( 35mm) -6:30pm
Kiarostami’s most radical and brilliant work, this fiction-documentary hybrid uses a sensational real-life event—the arrest of a young man on charges that he fraudulently impersonated the well-known filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf—as the basis for a stunning, multilayered investigation into movies, identity, artistic creation, and existence, in which the real people from the case play themselves. With its universal themes and fascinating narrative knots, Close-up has resonated with viewers around the world. Iran. 1990. 98 min. 35mm print courtesy of Janus Films.
Sunday, August 11
A Wedding Suit – 2pm
Preceded by Kiarostami’s short film THE CHORUS (17 min)
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.
The Traveler – 4pm
Preceded by Kiarostami’s short film SOLUTION (11 min)
At one point in CLOSE-UP, the main figure, Hossein Sabzian, says, “I am the child from the film THE TRAVELER who’s left behind.” Made in 1974, Abbas Kiarostami’s THE TRAVELER tells the story of a young boy who goes to great lengths to take a bus trip to see his favorite soccer team. Kiarostami has said that he considers the film to be his first authentic feature.
Saturday, August 17
Children’s Shorts – 2pm
Children are the protagonists in this collection of shorts by Kiarostami, who began his career making films for an Iranian children’s cultural institute.
BREAD AND ALLEY (10 min), BREAKTIME (11 min), THE CHORUS (17 min), ORDERLY OR DISORDERLY (15 min), SO CAN I (4 min), SOLUTION (11 min) and TWO SOLUTIONS FOR ONE PROBLEM (5 min)
Where is the Friend’s House? – 4pm
The first film in Abbas Kiarostami’s sublime, interlacing trilogy of films set in the northern Iranian village of Koker takes a premise of fable-like simplicity—a boy searches for the home of his classmate whose school notebook he has accidentally taken—and transforms it into a miraculous, child’s-eye adventure of the everyday. As our young hero zigzags determinedly across two towns aided (and sometimes misdirected) by those he encounters, his quest becomes both a revealing portrait of Iranian society in all its richness and complexity and a touching parable about the meaning of personal responsibility. Shot through with all the wonder, beauty, tension, and mystery one day can contain, Where is the Friend’s House? established Kiarostami’s reputation as one cinema’s most sensitive and profound humanists. Iran. 1987. 83 min. DCP. With English subtitles.