Abbas Kiarostami (born 1940) is the most influential and controversial post-revolutionary Iranian filmmaker and one of the most highly celebrated directors in the international film community of the last decade. During the period of the 1980s and the 1990s, at a time when Iranians had such a negative image in the West, his cinema introduced the humane and artistic face of his people. Kiarostami belongs to a generation of filmmakers who created the so called “New Wave,” a movement in Iranian cinema that started in the 1960s, before the revolution of 1979. Directors such as Forough Farrokhzad, Dariush Mehrjui, Sohrab Shaheed Saless, Amir Naderi, Bahram Beizai and Parviz Kimiavi were the pioneers of this movement. These filmmakers had a number of techniques in common, including the use of poetic dialogue and of allegorical narrative as a way of dealing with complex political and philosophical issues. They were followed not only by Kiarostami, but also by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Bahman Ghobadi, Jafar Panahi and Hassan Yektapanah.
Kiarostami’s cinema offers a different definition of film. According to film professors such as Jamsheed Akrami, unlike many other contemporary filmmakers Kiarostami has consistently attempted to redefine film by forcing the audience’s increased involvement. In recent years he has also progressively trimmed down the size of his films, which Akrami believes reduces the film making experience from a collective endeavor to a purer, more basic form of artistic expression. As Kiarostami quoted in relation to his individual style of minimalism: “My films have been progressing towards a certain kind of minimalism, even though it was never intended. Elements that can be eliminated have been eliminated. This was pointed out to me by somebody who referred to the paintings of Rembrandt and his use of light: some elements are highlighted while others are obscured or even pushed back into the dark. And it’s something that we do – we bring out elements that we want to emphasize.”
*Today is his birthday. Happy Birthday Master