More Kiarostami?

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denti alligator
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More Kiarostami?

#1 Post by denti alligator » Fri Feb 02, 2007 8:51 pm

More Kiarostami?

From Criterion web site:
MoMA Salutes Kiarostami
Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami will be honored at New York's Museum of Modern Art with a major retrospective, Abbas Kiarostami: Image Maker. Running from March 1 to May 26, the series will encompass the director and artist's films, photography, and installations. In total, thirty-three of his films, including shorts and features, will be shown, among them Through the Olive Trees, Taste of Cherry, and The Wind Will Carry Us.

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#2 Post by CSM126 » Fri Feb 02, 2007 10:06 pm

More Kiarostami?
At the very least, I hope they'll redo Taste of Cherry, which needs an updated transfer badly. Any more of his films would be gravy.

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#3 Post by Saarijas » Fri Feb 02, 2007 10:10 pm

If all of this comes to fruition with getting some more Iranian CC's I would be thrilled. I was just considering writting to JM or something about the current state of Iranian film and how great it is. And ask if there are Kiarostami's in the works, or maybe something by Bahman Ghobadi - his A Time For Drunken Horses doesn't have an R1 release I believe - or maybe something by Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Well in any case, anything would be more then welcome by Kiarostami or any of the other great Iranian film makers.

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#4 Post by CSM126 » Fri Feb 02, 2007 10:14 pm

Veering off-topic for a moment - Saarijas mentioned A Time for Drunken Horses, which reminds me...wasn't there some news/rumor going around a while ago about Criterion having acquired that film? I've been wondering about that one.

EDIT: why, yes. It's in the forthcoming list. Back to our regularly scheduled thread.

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#5 Post by denti alligator » Fri Feb 02, 2007 10:40 pm

Decent DVD releases of Kiarostami's pre-Taste of Cherry films are badly needed. A box set of these films would be--next to a box of Edward Yang's pre-Yi Yi films--automatically a release of the year.

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#6 Post by Le Samouraï » Sat Feb 03, 2007 8:00 am

CC releases of any Kiarostami would be great. I have only seen af few of his films on the big screen and still don't own any on DVD. The same goes for films from the Makhmalbaf family.

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#7 Post by ellipsis7 » Sat Feb 03, 2007 8:16 am

Would really advise forum members catching this if possible... This is a repeat of the London 2005 retro @ NFT which I caught... Really superb and fascinating stuff... What are really rare and worth seeing are his early shorts and medium length films - if only Criterion or Eclipse would box these up and release...

As regards TASTE OF CHERRY, it could due for an new anamorphic transfer by the CC... MK2, Kiarostami's co-producer release ABC AFRICA, THROUGH THE OLIVE TREES and TASTE OF CHERRY in March, following on FIVE at the end of last year, and TEN plus 10 ON TEN, and THE WIND WILL CARRY US previously, all in superbly produced editions with English subs... AE released TASTE OF CHERRY anamorphically transferred along with 10 ON TEN in 2005...

I excerpt an article I wrote on the AK London festival, mentioning some of the rarer shorts...
Finally, NFT programmes of Kiarostami's immediate post-revolutionary films (shorts and one hour pieces), feature intriguing strategies which would be subversive, if only he was interested in something as direct as a political response. In the wake of revolutionary chaos and turmoil, TOOTHACHE (1980) is a bizarre gem focussing on the subject of dental hygiene, while the probing masterwork ORDERLY AND DISORDERLY (1981), uses self-reflexivity and repetition to interrogate order and disorder and the ability to engineer both. While SOLUTION (1978) bursts unexpectedly into an unfettered celebration of freedom and nature, out of the story of a man seeking to return with his puncture repaired tyre to his abandoned car.

Longer pieces CASE NO 1 NO 2 (1979) features disruption in a school classroom and seven students suspended for a week by the teacher, because no one will own up. Adults, including parents, educational experts, tv pundits, mullahs and government ministers, wrangle over the nature of rebellion and resolution, issues of honesty, discipline, solidarity and betrayal. The prevailing thought is to recommend that the students should stick to their guns and stay silent, and even suggests a form of re-education for the teacher. The sore memory of the Shah's secret police is raw and recent. A wily Ayatollah judge from the revolutionary religious courts opines that the pupils may have held out for a greater good for the full seven days, but when they are readmitted to the classroom, they will have changed nothing, as the system and the teacher and they themselves remain just as before. Finally FELLOW CITIZEN (1983), with a foretaste of 10, intriguingly spends an hour focussing on the heated conversations of a harassed traffic warden and the motorists who are trying to gain access to a restricted traffic zone. In a theocracy that bans exposure of the human body, irate hospital bound drivers are shown waving chest x-rays under the nose of the put upon public official!
As for the MoMA installations, there will probably be SLEEPERS, TEN MINUTES OLDER, and maybe something from the recent KIAROSTAMI - ERICE collaboration, and possibly a restaging of FOREST WITHOUT LEAVES...

Hopefully there will also be a staging of his performance installation TAAZIYEH...

The exhibition of his photographs will also key into his recent short ROADS OF KIAROSTAMI, based on still images of landscape and alluding at the end to the nuclear threat to Iran and the world...

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#8 Post by zedz » Tue Feb 06, 2007 6:22 pm

What we need is:

Criterion Koker Trilogy box set with all the trimmings.

Criterion Close-Up

Eclipse box of pre-Friend's House TV and theatrical films (including the incredible pre-revolutionary Traveller)

Eclipse "Written by Kiarostami" box, including any stray Panahis, The Key, The Journey, Men at Work.

That should do it.

And where can I pre-order Denti's Eclipse box of That Day, on the Beach, Taipei Story and The Terroriser?

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#9 Post by BWilson » Thu Feb 22, 2007 12:12 pm

Nothing would make me happier than a "Life and Nothing More..." DVD by Criterion.

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#10 Post by Saarijas » Fri Mar 02, 2007 8:10 pm

Well, I went to the opening of the film retrospective, where they played a Taste of Cherry. For what its worth it was an amazing expierence, Kiarostami spoke breifly before the showing, and said mostly how proud he was that his work was being displayed by the MoMA. Before the showing, I spotted Kiarostami on his way into the theater, and shoke his hand, and just quickly said I was a big fan. I know he doesn't know much english, and he didn't really respond with anything besides a smile and a nod, so I donno if he understood. And also before the showing they had a slide up saying thanks to blah blah for making this possible, and nothing criterion related was on the list, and no rialto pictures or anything was shown before the print. Not sure what that really means, but I am still holding out hope for some more Kiarostami.

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#11 Post by whaleallright » Fri Mar 02, 2007 8:51 pm

Anyone know where the prints of the earlier (pre-1988) films are coming from?

Some of the titles in this retrospective haven't even appeared in certain "exhaustive" Kiarostami filmographies!

Those few of his early shorts I've been able to see have been great in their own right as well as interesting as anticipations of some of the methods and concerns of his later pictures.

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#12 Post by ellipsis7 » Sat Mar 03, 2007 5:14 am

Kiarostami's earlier films come from the Kanun - The Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, where he worked...

Kiarostami speaks reasonable English in private...

In a rare VHS copy of THE REPORT that I saw, someone had laboriously and crudely blacked out a picture of the Shah on the wall of an office with a felt pen, frame by frame!... I wonder whether it will be left in for the MOMA screening...

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#14 Post by denti alligator » Sat Mar 03, 2007 1:03 pm

ellipsis7 wrote:In a rare VHS copy of THE REPORT that I saw, someone had laboriously and crudely blacked out a picture of the Shah on the wall of an office with a felt pen, frame by frame!... I wonder whether it will be left in for the MOMA screening...
The Report is not part of the retrospective. Sadly.

Anyone know why this one film would be missing from the retrospective?

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#15 Post by denti alligator » Sun Mar 04, 2007 10:07 pm

So I went to five screenings at MoMA this weekend. Here are my impressions:

Colors (1976): A short film meant to teach children to identify colors. It has some interesting visual moments, but on the whole is forgettable.

How to Make Use of Leisure Time: Painting (1977): Another educational short that is pretty funny. Two lazy youngsters learn that painting can be fun, and that re-painting old, seemingly useless things can transform them into (at the least) something pretty to look at. Amusing.

Solution No. 1 (1978): Another short, this time non-didactic. It's a brilliant little piece that follows a man as he rolls a new tire down a hill to where he left his vehicle with a flat. Hilarious with beautiful and amazing tracking shots. A miniature exploration of one prominent Kiarostami theme (the journey in the face of an accident).

The Wedding Suit (1976): A feature film (54 mins.) that is charming, very funny, and suspenseful. As a pre-revolutionary drama, we get a completely different social dynamic. The two main adolescent boys in the film are actually dating. The plot follows them as they vie for the (unsanctioned) use of another boy's newly tailored suit (made for his sister's wedding). I found this fully satisfying as a clever tale of adolescent mischief and friendship/bullying. Wonderful!

Toothache (1979): Another didactic short, but this one—meant to teach the virtues of caring for one's teeth and the dangers of neglecting them—is set in a narrative frame, which is pretty comical. But there's nothing funnier than listening to a dentist explain why brushing one's teeth is essential while in the background children are screaming and moaning in pain.

Orderly and Disorderly (1981): The didactic short becomes explicitly self-reflexive in this study of a group of situations (students leaving classroom and descending stairs, students boarding bus, pedestrians at a stop walk, etc.) in which each is shot twice: once as the ideal “orderlyâ€

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#16 Post by denti alligator » Sun Mar 04, 2007 10:40 pm

First-Graders (1984): A feature-length documentary shot mainly in the schoolyard and principal's office of an urban school. (Apparently it is Tehran's poorest school district.) I thought the film was meant to explore disciplinary measures, but then I saw Homework (see below). Instead, this film is lighthearted and mostly comical as we watch students try to explain why they came late to school or why they kicked (or otherwise pestered) one of their fellow students. There is an extended sequence in which Kiarostami follows a plastic bag as it is carried about by the wind. It's a beautiful sequence, and I can't help think that the writer or director of American Beauty had seen this. The other remarkable part of the film has to do with a peculiar narrative gap introduced at the end. A marvelous film.

Where is My Friend's House? (1987): This is the only film I saw this weekend that I had previously seen. I was surprised that the theater was packed (at least 150 people) for this one, but when I saw it a year ago downtown I was only one of maybe 15 in the audience. Anyway, this is a masterpiece through and through. It is unpretentious, profoundly poignant, and beautifully shot. The young boy who plays Ahmed is so wonderful. The film explores many of Kiarostami's themes in a very subtle way. This needs a Criterion release now!

Homework (1989): This film blew me away! Kiarostami says at the beginning that he doesn't know exactly what the film will be/is meant to be, perhaps a kind of “pictorial researchâ€

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#17 Post by ellipsis7 » Mon Mar 05, 2007 5:22 am

So glad the MOMA screenings are going well - the 2005 London Kiarostami festival was wonderful... I have a signed and dedicated original B& W landscape photograph given to me by Abbas in 2001, hanging here in my office, alongside an UK poster for TEN signed by AK and actor Mania Akbari, and pictures of AK on the Aran Islands (with me and others)... Can catch a glimpse of that trip on the extra docu AK: THE ART OF LIVING appended to US R1 disc of ABC AFRICA...

Unfortunately there is not enough space here on the forum to post the transcript of my 2-3 hour masterclass conversation with AK, published with his permission as a small pamphlet...

Happiness also this week with those 3 new MK2 French AK discs out tomorrow!...

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#18 Post by Antoine Doinel » Sun Mar 11, 2007 1:47 pm

Here's a brief Q & A with Kiarostami from the NY Times Magazine:

[quote]Questions for Abbas Kiarostami
Tales From Tehran

Interview by DEBORAH SOLOMON

Q: New York's Museum of Modern Art is screening 32 of your films this month and touting your accomplishments as one of the great film directors of our time. I imagine you are less celebrated back home in Tehran.

A: No one criticizes me; no one encourages me. Nobody has anything to do with me. Those who need to know who I am know who I am.

Q: As an independent filmmaker living in a repressive Islamic theocracy, are you harassed by the government?

A: They are very civil, but they don't allow me to screen my movies.

Q: If your films are not shown in theaters in Iran, do Iranians know of them?

A: They can buy the DVDs on the black market.

Q: It's odd that your films would be viewed as subversive, when they're more philosophical than political and abound with picturesque views of the countryside. My favorite is “Where Is the Friend's House?â€

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#19 Post by ellipsis7 » Sun Mar 11, 2007 1:59 pm

Well amazing they didn't ask him about Iran's nuclear energy and an atomic bomb... Really very simplistic approach to the questioning...

A couple of brief excerpts from my session with Abbas...
AK: My experience of working with children in making those short movies was in a sense similar to making the early commercials, because it also was such a learning experience for me. And some of what I learnt I could apply later to films I made with adult characters, not all of it, but some of it. The idea of having to work with children forced on me a sort of simplicity, having to adopt some sort of simplicity in my work, because I had to in terms of relating to the children. An interesting story, the first person who became the President of Iran when Iran became a Republic after the Revolution used to be a teacher, a school teacher. And (while he was still a teacher) he used to come on television after the Revolution and tell the kids, the viewers, which parts of your books to keep and which parts to tear up. The schoolteacher did that TV show for only six months but when he ran for presidency he was elected, mainly because people could relate to the simple language he was using on his television shows. Because peoples' impression of television was of this sort of box that always gave out complicated messages. Now for the first time they could receive easy messages, simple messages, from this person, that contributed to his popularity. I just cited that example to conclude how important it is for us to communicate with our audience in simple language. You know, I have been criticised sometimes that my films are too complicated, but I guess people don't realise the complications come from mere simplicity. They're so simple that they're complicated....

Q: Up to 1979 you were working under the Shah's regime, pre the Revolution, and you were relatively protected from the pro-western culture the Shah was promoting in Iran. 1979 obviously brought the Revolution and upheaval. At that point there should have been possibly an explosion of filmmaking, which actually didn't happen.

AK: The revolutionary period was such a weird one because not only had all the filmmakers forgotten about their own professions, but everybody in every other profession had also. There was a state of confusion and disorientation. I remembered when I was talking to my colleagues, that there were two professions after the Revolution that were looked down on upon by the government. That was the people who would sell alcohol, and the filmmakers. Because of that we thought that was the end of us as filmmakers. We would have to look for another job. So that explains the lull in filmmaking the question mentioned. Nobody made any movies for a few years, and I was one of those people. My career as a photographer dates back to exactly that time, when I thought my filmmaking career was over. I remember at the time I just bought a camera and I started taking photographs.

Q: Ironically the period of inactivity for yourself and other Iranian filmmakers ended when a policy of censorship of strict censorship was introduced, maybe three or four years after the Revolution, with also a policy of promoting indigenous cultural filmmaking. Can you comment on that as a period?

AK: I've always talked about limitations in my interviews and I have mentioned how restrictions and limitations proved to be helpful for me. And one of the examples that I cite is what happened during the early years of the revolution. And I think, you know, when we think about Iranian cinema after the revolution, one of the key factors would be the limitations that were imposed, not the only one, but a key factor. And, you know, for the first four years after the revolution we could get away with making any movies that we wanted to, because there was nothing in terms of regulations in place. But nobody did, because we were really waiting for some regulations to be imposed on us, to then react to it, to then see what kind of frameworks do we have to work with. I remember way back in my school days, whenever our teacher would say, ‘write an essay about whatever you want to', we had real difficulty with that. We wanted the teacher to be very clear in terms of this certain issue is what I want you to write about. And I think we therefore used to work well under limitations. And our career as filmmakers, I don't mean to say, is shaped by the limitations, but it is one of the factors shaping it. I also don't mean to say that I support censorship, or having restrictions for artists. And I think, you know, because of the complexities of our characters we need to be challenged, we need to defy something and that's what the limitations allow us, to see if we can get around them, to see how we respond to them.

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#20 Post by tavernier » Sun Mar 11, 2007 2:37 pm

Here's a brief Q & A with Kiarostami from the NY Times Magazine
Deborah Solomon always asks the cutesy questions for that Times magazine feature, never any hard-hitting ones (mustn't let the celebrity feel that he's actually being asked real questions and hurt his feelings!).

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#21 Post by GringoTex » Sun Mar 11, 2007 3:19 pm

denti alligator wrote:Where is My Friend's House? (1987): This is the only film I saw this weekend that I had previously seen. I was surprised that the theater was packed (at least 150 people) for this one
That's all they could attract in NYC? I programmed a Kiarostami retro in Texas in 1997 and we sold out every show of a 900 capacity theater. Maybe he's not as "hot" as he was back then.

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#22 Post by Tribe » Sun Mar 11, 2007 7:50 pm

tavernier wrote:Deborah Solomon always asks the cutesy questions for that Times magazine feature, never any hard-hitting ones (mustn't let the celebrity feel that he's actually being asked real questions and hurt his feelings!).
Exactly. Solomon is a total boob when it comes to those Sunday magazine interviews...often embarrassing.

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#23 Post by BWilson » Thu Mar 29, 2007 7:11 pm

That interviewer is an embarassment, she should be writing for the Sacramento Bee not the NYTimes. Oh well, I always had my doubts about that newspaper.

However the interview is interesting, because Kiarostami seems to have a sense of humor about the questions and is giving funny answers by the end.

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#24 Post by Via_Chicago » Thu Mar 29, 2007 11:11 pm

GringoTex wrote:
denti alligator wrote:Where is My Friend's House? (1987): This is the only film I saw this weekend that I had previously seen. I was surprised that the theater was packed (at least 150 people) for this one
That's all they could attract in NYC? I programmed a Kiarostami retro in Texas in 1997 and we sold out every show of a 900 capacity theater. Maybe he's not as "hot" as he was back then.
That's pretty impressive, because only three years ago we had a Kiarostami retrospective here in Chicago, and there must have only been like fifty people tops to see Taste of Cherry. Disappointing to say the least (not as disappointing as the 50 or so people who came out to see Imitation of Life over two showings last night).

What's most disappointing about the Kiarostami in NY business is that he wanted to teach a master class at NYU and they, unbelievably, said no. He taught at CUNY Hunter instead. How sad.

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#25 Post by MuzikJunky » Fri Dec 14, 2007 7:58 pm

More Kiarostami?
Yes, more Kiarostami! My all-time favorite auteur! Peace.

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