Tehran, July 5, IRNA – Death of the internationally renowned Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami shocked friends and people of cinema both inside and outside Iran.
Kiarostami, 76, succumbed to death in Paris, France, on July 4 after fighting gastrointestinal cancer for four months. He was in France for further treatments.
He was the only Iranian filmmaker who won the Palme D’Or, the top prize at Cannes, with his 1997 film Taste of Cherry, a film to appreciate life in a delicate way based on Iranian values.
In addition to be a screenwriter, film editor, art director and producer, Kiarostami was also a poet, photographer, painter, illustrator, and graphic designer who had a reputation for his “poetic cinema.”
On June 29, he was among 683 film-makers asked to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The basic requirement is that a candidate must have ‘demonstrated exceptional achievement in the field of theatrical motion pictures,’ although each branch has its own requirements. And as it is acknowledged by the world distinguished filmmakers, Kiarostami is the director of ground-breaking films including ‘Close-Up,’ ‘The Taste of Cherry’ and ‘Ten.’
He won the hearts of millions throughout the globe with his films which were basically an appreciation of life. According to the Variety’s writer, the “elusiveness of human connection was Kiarostami’s theme.”
Major world artists admitted that he was a genius at his work including famous French-Swiss filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard who once said: ‘Film begins with DW Griffith and ends with Abbas Kiarostami.’
Commenting on Kiarostam’s departure, American director Martin Scorsese said Kiarostami was ‘a very special human being: quiet, elegant, modest, articulate and quite observant.
‘He was a true gentleman and, truly, one of our great artists.”
Kiarostani was not only respected by his colleagues at the film industry, but he was also admired by those in politics.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Zavad Zarif on a tweeted post said: ‘Iran has lost a towering figure in international cinema. May the Almighty receive him in His infinite Mercy’.
President Hassan Rouhani also commented on Kiarostami’s demise saying in a tweeted post that his different outlook to life and his way of inviting people to peace and friendship was a perpetual achievement of the 7th art.
Additionally, the French President François Hollande sent a message of condolences on July 5 on Kiarostami’s departure referring to the prominent filmmaker as a friend of France and a great artist.
President Hollande praised the director for forging ‘close artistic ties and deep friendships’ with France.
Close- Up (1990) is one his movies which was ranked 42 in British Film Institute’s The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time. It was also praised by directors such as Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog and Jean-Luc Godard.
Kiarostami won several awards including the Cannes Palm d’Or in 1997 for ‘Taste of Cherry.’ A number of other awards he had won during his career include:
Austrian Decoration for Science and Art (2014)
Honorary Golden Orange Prize, International Antalya Film Festival (2014)
Japan’s Medal of Honor (2013)
Glory to the Filmmaker Award, Venice Film Festival (2008)
World’s great masters, Kolkata International Film Festival (2007)
Gold Leopard of Honor, Locarno International Film Festival (2005)
Prix Henri-Langlois Prize (2006)
Federico Fellini Gold Medal, UNESCO (1997)
Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival (1997)
François Truffaut Award (1993)
Prix Cine Decouvertes (1992)
Prix Roberto Rossellini (1992)
His 2010 movie ‘Certified Copy’ was shot in Italy, and the famous French actress Juliette Binoche played the leading actress role.
The late distinguished Japanese director Akira Kurosawa was often quoted saying, “When Satyajit Ray (prominent Indian movie maker) passed on, I was very depressed. But after seeing Kiarostami’s films, I thanked God for giving us just the right person to take his place.”
Kurosawa and Kiarostami met in 1993.
Kiarostami is, undoubtedly, the most shining star of the history of Iran’s cinema.
He once said: “If you remove the roots of a tree from its mainland and then plant it elsewhere, it will not be able to bear any fruit at all or, if it does, that will not be the same good fruit it used to be when it was in the motherland. This is a natural rule. I think, if I had left my country, I could have become just like that tree.”
This is true, Kiarostami is a deep-rooted tree in the ground of his motherland and all Iranians, generation after generation, will use his artistic fruits as long as this mainland exists.
This is why, Reza Kianian, a senior Iranian actor and writer, said in his message of condolences that the “flag of the world cinema is half mast today.”
Kiarostami was married once, in 1969, to Parvin Amir-Gholi, but they divorced in 1982. They had two sons together: Ahmad (a mulitmedia publisher) and Bahman (a documentary-maker).
On July 5, all Iranian cinemas are to stop screening movies at 22 pm to pay tribute to the “Master Kiarostami.”