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Close-Up on Kiarostami

from 29 November in Rialto De Pijp and Rialto VU

Audiences are used to films that offer clear and definite endings, but a film with a poetic essence has a certain ambiguity and can be looked at in many different ways. It allows for fantasies to develop in the viewer’s imagination

Thus said Iranian director, screenwriter, poet, and photographer Abbas Kiarostami (1940-2016), words perfectly summing up his view of film. Kiarostami did not favour films claiming the viewers' film experience by holding them hostage to a watertight screenplay with a plot twist at the end; films should offer viewers space and tranquillity instead to interpret things happening on the silver screen.

His work is characterized by a very subtle, almost mysterious observation of human nature. The stories are masterfully simple, meditative tales about our motives, with room for introspection, sorrow and joy. Kiarostami played with the form of film, using professional actors but also giving lead roles to child actors without previous acting experience.

Kiarostami: An Iranian director who did not flee Iran, a man whose films were acclaimed in the West while they were marginalized and sometimes banned in his native country. All his films are masterpieces, films that I want to rewatch each year, because they so closely approach the essence of cinema – and because they take me in my role as a viewer seriously.

I am certainly not alone in loving Kiarostami's work. Martin Scorsese described his films as “The highest level of artistry in the cinema.” Akira Kurosawa once said: “Words cannot describe my feelings about his films.” Directors Jean-Luc Godard, Michael Haneke and Nanni Moretti have also stated more than once that for them Kiarostami is an absolute master.

In the coming months, Rialto De Pijp and Rialto VU will showcase eight masterpieces from Kiarostami's rich oeuvre: The Traveler, Where is the Friend's House?, And Life Goes On, Through the Olive Trees, Close-Up, Ten, The Wind Will Carry Us, and Taste of Cherry. Aficionados familiar with his film will enjoy seeing them again, viewers who are new to his work are presented with the perfect opportunity to enrich themselves endlessly with masterful cinema.

Marek Stolarczyk,
Film programmer Rialto