September 16, 2002
4:38 AM   Subscribe

"I can sympathize with you, but I can never feel your pain," as stated by a Turkish taxidermist in the film Taste of Cherry, by Abbas Kiarosatami, Persian director of great works of cinema. This film's poetic, universal message can apply to anyone who is trying to come to terms with loss, especially a year after that day. more inside
posted by insomnyuk (12 comments total)
all i know is that i already have my tickets for the premiere of "ten", his newest film. i love this guy's movies.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 8:48 AM on September 16, 2002

Kiarosatami is Iranian, and quite proud of his identity. Iranian filmmakers are producing some outstanding work, though much of it can't be shown in their native country. Festivals like this one are not uncommon, and reinforce the idea that Iran is on the verge of a progressive cultural revolution. The history of Iranian/Persian culture is fascinating, hopefully we'll be able to see more of it in the near future.

Interview with Abbas Kiarostami at a screening of Taste of Cherry.
posted by joemaller at 9:03 AM on September 16, 2002

I love his films as well. I recently saw "And Life Goes On..." which has become my favorite of his films. I also just saw "Close-Up", which is in some ways the most traditional of his films (it starts at the beginning and ends at the end, unlike many of his films where the beginning and end seem arbitrary at first).

Pity it's quite difficult to find most of his films around here. I'd love to see "Where is the Friend's Home" or any of his other 30-odd movies. I hope I get to see "Ten".

I'm hoping to visit Iran one day, in large part because of the amazing films that are made there. Another Iranian film-maker worth checking out is Mohsen Makhmalbaf, whose whole family seems to be involved in film. His "Salaam Cinema" is amazing exploration of what film means to people. "Gabbeh" is a visual poem, and has what is hands-down my favorite scene of any movie, where the teacher 'grabs' the sky, the fields, the water. His daughter Samira's "The Apple" is also well worth seeing. She borrowed Kiarostami's technique from Close-Up to re-create actual events using the actual people they happened to as the actors, in this case about to mentally-challenged young girls who are always locked up by their parents, and the social worker who reverses their roles.
posted by Emanuel at 9:04 AM on September 16, 2002

joemaller, one of the things I love about Iranian cinema is that so many of their films deal with major social issues, but do it within the boundaries of Iranian society. Most of these films do get shown in Iran. I think because of those boundaries, aspects of what it means to be human get explored that are largely ignored in Western films. Film-makers need to use 'poetry' to make their point, rather than simply showing things. You can see the tradition of Persian poetry come through in films from Iran.

Though yes, some films, such as "The Circle", which openly critisize the society, are not able to be shown within Iran.
posted by Emanuel at 9:09 AM on September 16, 2002

Film-makers need to use 'poetry' to make their point, rather than simply showing things.

In some ways, this reminds me of Hollywood's first golden era, when all those sparkling Grant/Tracy/Hepburn/et al movies relied on wit to convey what the Hayes Code would not permit.
posted by donkeyschlong at 11:55 AM on September 16, 2002

Anyone interested in Iranian film should hope for the speedy publication of Godfrey Cheshire's long-awaited book on the subject. He's one of the best movie critics around, and I've missed his columns greatly since he was inexplicably fired by the NY Press. Read an interview with him here, and here's a provocative list of "20 years, 20 films."
posted by languagehat at 1:20 PM on September 16, 2002

Emanuel, I'm a huge Mohsen Makhmalbaf fan; he's probably my favorite living director. I'm particularly enamored with "A Moment of Innocence", which is by any estimation a Great Film (that's right, capital G and capital F!). It manages at once to be autobiography, social commentary, a meditation on the nature of redemption on both the personal and political level, and a deconstruction of filmmaking, blurring the line between fact and fiction and destroying the fourth wall entirely. It also ends with one of the greatest freeze frames in the history of cinema (that's right, right up there with those shots of Jeanne Moreau's face in "Jules and Jim" and the final freeze frame in "Charulata".) The man is a genius.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:28 PM on September 16, 2002

I'm very impressed with Iranian cinema (particularly the neorealist school), but I have also some problems with it:

1. Enough with the children! I know the main reason many Iranian films feature children is to get past restrictions regarding depiction of physical interaction between males and females (men and women can't touch on film, but little boys and girls can), and also, if the main characters are children the film qualifies for at least partial funding from the government,'s becoming too formulaic.

2. Assistant directors who work under the tutelage of great directors and go on to make films that are pale imitations of their influences. This wouldn't be so irritating if the simulacrums weren't praised more than the superior films they copied.

3. Baffling (A Taste of Cherry) or heavy-handed (The Color of Paradise) endings. I was so disappointed by the endings to these otherwise wonderful films.

All right, I'm done venting. Now let me baffle you all by recommending a film that features four children, is directed by Kiarostami's one time assistant director Bahman Ghobadi, and has an ambiguous ending :).

A Time for Drunken Horses is the story of four orphaned Kurdish siblings who eke out a living on the Iran-Iraq border. It is one of the most powerful films I've ever seen.
posted by Devils Slide at 1:48 AM on September 17, 2002

That should read "I also have some problems with it".

Damn Metafilter grammar police have me all jittery.
posted by Devils Slide at 1:51 AM on September 17, 2002

OK, all you NYC-based Iranian-film fans, get yourselves over to Lincoln Center next weekend -- the Film Society is hosting a Conference on Iranian Cinema (presumably at the Walter Reade Theater), and it's absolutely free (except for the showing of Dariush Mehrjui's new movie Bemani/Stay Alive, Sat. at 7 and 9:15). Details here.
posted by languagehat at 1:16 PM on September 17, 2002

There was supposed to be more inside, but I don't think it really matters. It turned out well.
posted by insomnyuk at 6:16 PM on September 17, 2002

OK, all you Columbus-based film fans, get yourselves over to the Wexner Center for the Arts next month and be the first on your block to see Kairostami's new flick "ten" ... and, um, details here.
posted by priyanga at 2:02 PM on September 21, 2002

« Older Need a user's manual for your DNA?   |   Few Advertisers Use Pop-Ups (or do they?) Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments