Abbas Kiarostami

Born on June 22nd 1940 in Tehran, Kiarostami became interested in the arts at an early age. He won a painting competition at the age of eighteen and left home to study at Tehran University’s Faculty of Fine Arts. He worked throughout the 1960s as a commercial designer and illustrator making commercials, designing posters, creating credit titles for films and illustrating children’s books.

In 1969, the year that saw the birth of the Iranian New Wave with Dariush Mehrjui’s seminal film ‘The Cow’, Kiarostami helped to set up a filmmaking department at the ‘Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults’. The department’s debut production was Kiarostami’s own first film, the ten-minute ‘Bread and Alley‘, a charming, neo-realist gem about a small boy’s perilous walk home from school. The department would go on to become one of Iran’s most famous film studios, producing not only Kiarostami’s films, but also such modern Iranian classics as ‘The Runner‘ and ‘Bashu, The Little Stranger‘.
Though Kiarostami’s films have often been compared to those of Satyajit Ray, Vittorio de Sica, Eric Rohmer, or even Jacques Tati, they remain nevertheless uniquely Kiarostamian. Effortlessly simple and conceptually complex in equal measure; poetic, lyrical, meditative, self-reflexive and increasingly sophisticated, they mix fiction and documentary in unique ways, often presenting fact as fiction and fiction as fact. Kiarostami himself once said «We can never get close to the truth except through lying».
After ‘Bread and Alley’ Kiarostami went on to make a great catalogue of films, including fiction features, educational shorts, feature-length documentaries, and a series of films for television. He also wrote screenplays for other directors, most notably ‘The White Balloon’, for his former assistant Jafar Panahi.

When Kiarostami sadly left us on July 4th 2016 he left behind a body of work that will live forever in the annals of world cinema.

Kiarostami Foundation