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Auteur Abbas Kiarostami, who gained global recognition for Iranian cinema, passes away at 76

By Seyyed Mostafa Mousavi Sabet, Tehran Times

TEHRAN -- Abbas Kiarostami, the auteur who achieved global recognition for Iranian cinema after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, passed away in Paris on Monday at the age of 76, Persian media announced.

Abbas Kiarostami

He was suffering from a severe gastrointestinal disease. However, some overseas news agencies announced that he died of gastrointestinal cancer.

Kiarostami, who had been suffering repercussions due to several operations he had undergone for his illness, left Iran last week to receive additional treatment at a hospital in Paris.

Kiarostami’s death came as huge shock to Iranian cineastes and cultural officials.

Speaking to the Guardian from Tehran, Oscar-winning Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi said, “He wasn’t just a filmmaker; he was a modern mystic, both in his cinema and his private life.”

He noted that Kiarostami’s success empowered many generations of Iranian filmmakers and added, “He definitely paved ways for others and influenced a great many people. It’s not just the world of cinema that has lost a great man; the whole world has lost someone really great.”

Kamal Tabrizi, the director of the acclaimed movie “Lizard”, told the Persian service of ISNA, “His films surprised me more than those that the other masters of Iranian cinema made.”

“The calm master of cinema left the stage peacefully,” he added.

artwork by Mohammadsaleh Razmhosseini, Arman daily

Cultural officials, including Cinema Organization of Iran Director Hojjatollah Ayyubi, Farabi Cinema Foundation director Alireza Tabesh and Deputy Culture Minster for Artists Affaires Ali Moradkhani, issued messages of condolence.

There has been massive coverage of Kiarostami’s death by international media.

Reuters described him as “the writer-director who showed that Iranian cinema was one of the most original and emotionally engaging in the world.”

Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian called Kiarostami “a sophisticated, self-possessed master of cinematic poetry” who “stayed notably loyal to his country” despite all obstacles to make film in there.

Born in Tehran, Kiarostami studied painting at the University of Tehran. However, he pursued his filmmaking career at the Center for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults in 1969.

He was among the few artists who remained in Iran after the victory of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, while many others chose to live abroad.

He directed many short and feature films, but “Where Is the Friend’s Home?”, the story of a schoolboy who scours a neighboring village for a classmate’s home to return an important notebook, won him a national reputation.

Afterwards, his films began to win acclaim at international events. “Taste of Cherry” won him the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997.

Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences selected him as a new member.

Kiarostami was married in 1969 to Parvin Amirqoli, but they divorced in 1982. He is survived by his two sons, Ahmad, a mulitmedia publisher, and Bahman, a documentarian.


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