I sometimes wonder how the last 30 years of films would have turned out if Abbas Kiarostami had had an iPhone. Nowadays, film footage is so easy to capture that we take realism for granted, but Kiraostami was a pioneer of verité-like realism in Iranian cinema from the 1970s onwards, breaking new ground against heavy censorship. His legacy is an important one, and whether you’re a longtime fan of his work or haven’t come across it before, Janus Films’ new project can give you an intro.
A new trailer for Abbas Kiarostami: A Retrospective shows a restored retrospective of the late Iranian director’s film, which is soon to receive a limited release. Three years after he passed away, production company Janus films has curated a collection of some of his best and most well-known works, as well as previously unreleased footage. The preview includes recommendations from Jim Jarmusch and Scorsese, revealing the degree of influence Kiarostami had.
Kiarostami was born in Tehran in 1940 and studied painting at the University of Tehran, before working as a graphic designer and commercial director. Eventually, after a period working for the film department for the Centre for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, he turned his hand to filmmaking. Throughout his career, Kiarostami helmed more than 50 films.
The director was best known for his Koker Trilogy (Where Is the Friend’s House? And Life Goes On, Through the Olive Trees), as well as numerous others: Close-Up, Taste of Cherry, Shirin, 24 Frames, ABC Africa, Ten, and Five. He produced his very first feature, The Report, in 1977, two years before the start of Iran’s divisive 1979 revolution. And in 1997 he won the Palme d’Or for Taste of Cherry, followed by a Grand Special Jury Prize from the Venice Film Festival for his 1999 film The Wind Will Carry Us, which put him in the international spotlight.
Abbas Kiarostami: A Retrospective includes restorations undertaken by the Criterion Collection and mk2, along with contributions by Kiarostami’s son, Ahmad Kiarostami. As well as the features mentioned above, it will reportedly feature eight of his films — Experience, First Graders, The Traveler, A Wedding Suit, The Report, Case No. 1 Case No. 2, Fellow Citizen, and Homework. And, adding to the already expansive list, a number of other shorts are among the inventory: The Bread and Alley, Breaktime, So Can I, Two Solutions for One Problem, The Colors, How to Make Use of Leisure Time, Tribute to Teachers, Solution, Toothache, Orderly or Disorderly, and The Chorus.
In a week filled with news of this year’s formidable TIFF slate — including features like Taika Waititi’s anti-Nazi satire Jojo Rabbit and Marielle Heller’s It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood— I’m slightly surprised that a segment of the Kiarostami retrospective doesn’t feature among them. But maybe this is a collection too unique to be bundled with the headliners this year.
The collection debuts at IFC Centre in New York this Friday (July 26) and afterwards will open across the US, covering Philadelphia, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago.