Abbas Kiarostami found a way to rise above the extreme manifestations of
politics and ideology that have bedeviled Iran for decades. He never went into
exile (voluntarily or otherwise), yet he openly collaborated with dissident
filmmakers like Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rassoulof. He rarely directly
addressed contentious issues, yet his focus on children characters is often
considered a deliberate strategy to circumvent censorship. With his death,
there is no equivalent filmmaker to step into his shoes. Kiarostami’s friend
and photographic colleague Seyfolah Samadian splices together some of the fond
moments he captured with the master in 76
Minutes and 15 Seconds with Abbas Kiarostami (trailer here), which screens
tomorrow as part of Reseeing Iran: The 21st Annual Iranian Film Festival in DC.
is easy to see why Samadian and Kiarostami were friends and collaborators. As
fellow photographers, they both shared an appreciation for visual composition.
Unfortunately, from a cinematic perspective, Samadian was apparently
particularly involved in Kiarostami’s long-take video installation Five Dedicated to Ozu, an ostensive
tribute to the Japanese master, which is easily one of the most challenging
films in the Kiarostami oeuvre. However, it makes it clear those paddlings of
ducks and gaggles of geese did not happen by accident.
nothing else, 76 Minutes will present
a clear picture of Kiarostami’s painstakingly deliberate process of crafting
film. Yet, there is nothing neurotic or obsessive about it. Instead, he rather
seems to enjoy it. As befits its purpose as a tribute film, Samadian includes many
scenes of Kiarostami reciting poetry and laughing with friends. Both subject
and toastmaster-documentarian also look like they get a kick out of the meta
scenes, as when Samadian films Kiarostami “co-directing” a scene Massoud
Kimiai, with Panahi serving as their handheld cinematographer.
are some interesting insights tucked away in 76 Minutes and 15 Seconds (an accurate reflection of the films
running time that also references Kiarostami’s age at the time of his death: 76
years and 15 days), but it is definitely a small, quiet film. Still, the man
who helmed minimalist fare such as Five and
Shirin would probably approve.
doc has often been paired-up with Kiarostami’s final short film on the festival
circuit and such is the case again this weekend. Kiarostami’s Take Me Home is a Red Balloon-esque film that follows a rolling soccer-football
through the infinite, Escher-like steps of a picturesque Southern Italian
coastal village. The black-and-white cinematography is spectacular and Peter
Soleimanipour’s melodic score is snappy and sophisticated, but the
computer-enhanced bouncing ball is often distractingly fake looking. Still, it
is another film that illustrates how Kiarostami’s photographic sensibilities
influenced his films.
Regardless, Certified Copy remains one of his most wry and rapturously best films. 76 Minutes and 15 Seconds with Abbas
Kiarostami is basically recommended for the auteur’s dedicated admirers
when it screens tomorrow (2/26) at the National Gallery of Art, but Certified Copy is recommended for
everyone when it screens today (2/25) and Monday (2/27) at the AFI Silver
Theatre, as part of Reseeing Iran.
Labels: Abbas Kiarostami, Documentary, Iranian Cinema, Reseeing Iran '7