Abbas Kiarostami

Photo Credit: Gelareh Kiazand.

The most acclaimed and influential of Iran’s major filmmakers, Abbas Kiarostami, was born n Tehran on June 22, 1940. Raised in a middle-class household, he was interested in art and literature from an early age. During and after university, where he majored in painting and graphic design, he illustrated children’s books, designed credit sequences for films, and made numerous television commercials. in 1969, he was invited to start a filmmaking division for the government-run Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (an organization Iranians call Kanoon). The ten-minute Bread and Alley (1970) was the first of several short films, most centered on children, that he directed over the next two decades, a period during which he also made documentaries, including the feature-length First Graders (1984) and Homework (1989), both of which take up the subject of education. His first narrative feature, The Traveler (1974), about a provincial boy scheming to reach Tehran to see a soccer match, was made under Kanoon’s auspices, while his second, The Report (1977), an autobiographically tinged story of a collapsing marriage, was made independently.

It was after Iran’s 1979 revolution that Kiarostami began his rapid ascent to international renown. Where Is My Friend’s House? (1987), about a rural boy’s effort to return a pal’s notebook, won the Bronze Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival. Close-up (1990), about the trial of a man accused of impersonating a famous filmmaker, was the director’s first film to focus on cinema itself, and the blur the lines between documentary and fiction; it has been voted the best Iranian film ever made by Iranian and international critics. In And Life Goes On (a.k.a. Life and Nothing More…, 1992), he dramatized a journey he made into an earthquake’s devastation zone to discover if the child actors of Where Is My Friend’s House? has survived. Those two films and Through the Olive Trees (1994), which dramatized the making of And Life Goes On, have been dubbed the “Koker” trilogy by critics after the name of the village where much of their action was filmed.

After And Life Goes On and through the Olive Trees earned Kiarostami wide acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival, his next film, Taste of Cherry (1997), became the first – and so far, only – Iranian film to win the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or. Telling of a man’s attempt to gain assistance in committing suicide, a taboo under Islam, the film was one of several by Kiarostami to be banned in Iran while enjoying international success. His final film if thus remarkable period, The Wind Will Carry Us (1999), which concerns a camera crew on an enigmatic assignment in Kurdistan, won the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

In the new century, Kiarostami broadened his creative focus, devoting more time to forms including photography, installation art, poetry, and teaching. In cinema, he embraced low-budget digital filmmaking for the feature Ten (2002), the documentaries ABC Africa (2001) and 10 on Ten (2004), the experimental films Five (2003) and Shirin (2008), and several shorts. Beginning at the decade’s end, he went abroad to make two dramatic features, both centering on male-female relations: Certified Copy (2010), starring Juliette Binoche, in Italy, and Like Someone in Love (2012) in Japan. At the time of his death, he was preparing a movie to be made in China.

In March 2016, while he was in the midst of working on 24 Frames, Kiarostami was hospitalized and underwent several operations. He was transferred to Paris in late June of the same year, and died there on July 4th. Charges have been made that his death was caused by medical malpractice by doctors in Iran. He is buried in Lavasan (a small city near Tehran). Posthumously completed, 24 Frames premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2017.

(source: Janus Films / Criterion Collection)

1970 Jury Special Award for The Bread and Alley at the 5th Tehran International Festival of Films for Children and Young Adults, Iran
1974 First Prize in Narrative Category for The Experience at the 4th Giffoni International Film Festival, Italy
1974 Jury’s Grand Prize for The Traveler at the 9th Tehran International Festival of Films for Children and Young Adults, Iran
1974 National TV Prize for The Traveler at the 9th Tehran International Festival of Films for Children and Young Adults, Iran
1976 First Prize for Two Solutions for One Problem at the International Educational Festival of Mexico
1976 Special Diploma of Critics for A Wedding Suit at the 11th Tehran International Festival of Films for the Children and Young Adults, Iran
1976 Iran National TV Prize for A Wedding Suit at the 11th Tehran International Festival of Films for the Children and Young Adults, Iran
1977 Diploma of Honor for A Wedding Suit at the 10th Moscow International Film Festival, Soviet Union
1979 Best Film Award for Case No. 1, Case No. 2 at the Iranian Festival of Films for Children and Young Adults
1984 Golden Plaque of Best Short Film for The Chorus at the 2nd Fajr International Film Festival, Tehran
1986 Jury Special Award for First Graders at the 4th Fajr International Film Festival, Tehran
1987 Golden Plaque of Best Director for Where Is the Friend’s Home? at the 5th Fajr International Film Festival, Tehran
1987 Jury Special Award for Where Is the Friend’s Home? at the 5th Fajr International Film Festival, Tehran
1987 Crystal Simorgh for Best Sound Recorders for Where Is the Friend’s Home? at the 5th Fajr International Film Festival, Tehran
1989 Bronze Leopard for Where Is the Friend’s Home? at the 42nd Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland
1989 FIPRESCI Special Mention for Where Is the Friend’s Home? at the 42nd Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland
1989 Prize of International Confederation of Art Cinemas for Where Is the Friend’s Home? at the 42nd Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland
1989 Barclay Jury Prize for Where Is the Friend’s Home? at the 42nd Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland
1989 Ecumenical Jury’s Special Mention for Where Is the Friend’s Home? at the 42nd Locarno International Film Festival, Switzerland
1989 Prize of International Confederation of Art Cinemas for Where Is the Friend’s Home? at RCC, France
1990 Jury Special Prize for Close-Up at the 8th Fajr International Film Festival, Tehran
1990 Best Film Award for Where Is the Friend’s Home? at the International Film Festival of the Royal Film Archive of Belgium
1990 Silver R for Close-Up at the 3rd Rimini International Film Festival, Italy
1990 Prize of Quebec Critics Association for Close-Up at the 19th Montreal International Festival of New Cinema & Video, Canada
1991 Prize of Best Director for Close-Up at the 5th Dunkerque International Film Festival, France
1991 Press Prize for Close-Up at the 5th Dunkerque International Film Festival, France
1991 Prize of the City of Dunkerque for Close-Up at the 5th Dunkerque International Film Festival, France
1991 Film Students Prize for Close-Up at the 5th Dunkerque International Film Festival, France
1992 CINEKID Award for Where is the Friend’s House? at the 5th Cinekid International Children Film Festival of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
1992 FIPRESCI Prize for Close-Up at the 11th Istanbul International Film Festival, Turkey
1992 Best Film Award of Un Certain Regard for Life and Nothing More… at the 45th Cannes International Film Festival. France
1992 Prix Roberto Rossellini Award for the Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 45th Cannes International Film Festival, France
1992 Prix Cine Decouvertes for Life and Nothing More… from the Association of Belgian Film Distributors
1993 François Truffaut Award for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 23rd Giffoni International Film Festival, Italy
1993 Prize of City of Rimini for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 6th Rimini International Film Festival, Italy
1993 Special award of the festival for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 6th Rimini International Film Festival, Italy
1993 Special Award of Critics for Life and Nothing More… at the 17th São Paulo International Film Festival, Brazil
1993 Golden Spike for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 38th Valladolid International Film Festival, Spain
1994 Silver Hugo for Through the Olive Trees at the 30th Chicago International Film festival, USA
1994 Golden Spike for Through the Olive Trees at the 39th Valladolid International Film Festival, Spain
1994 Special award of Critics for Through the Olive Trees at the 18th São Paulo International Film Festival, Brazil
1995 Golden Rose Award of Best Film for Through the Olive Trees at the 13th Bergamo Film Meeting, Italy
1995 Award of Best Director for Through the Olive Trees at the 8th Singapore International Film Festival
1995 Best Film Award for Where Is the Friend’s Home? at the Rome Summer Film Festival, Italy
1995 The Third Best Audience Film Prize for Through the Olive Trees at the 44th Melbourne International Film Festival, Australia
1995 Lifetime Achievement Award, Festa del Cinema, Rome, Italy
1995 Pier Paolo Pasolini Award for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami from Pier Paolo Pasolini Foundation, Rome
1996 Director of the Year, the Variety International Film Guide
1996 Officier de la Légion d’honneur from Ministry of Culture and Art of France
1997 Palme d’Or for Best Film for Taste of Cherry at the 50th Cannes International Film Festival, France
1997 Honorary Award, the first Iranian Cinema Celebration, Tehran, Iran
1997 Palme d’Or for Best Film for Taste of Cherry at the 50th Cannes International Film Festival, France
1997 Special award of Feast of Cinema for Abbas Kiarostami at the 2nd Feast of Cinema, Tehran
1997 Special Prize of Festival for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 27th Giffoni International Film Festival, Italy
1997 Vittorio De Sica Memorial Award for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami from Vittorio De Sica Foundation, Italy
1997 Federico Fellini Gold Medal (UNESCO Special award for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami from UNESCO, France)
1997 Taste of Cherry selected as the Best Film of the Year by Time magazine
1998 Taste of Cherry selected as the Best Foreign Film of the Year by the National Society of Film Critics, USA
1998 Taste of Cherry selected as the Best Foreign Film of the Year by Society of Film Critics of Boston, USA
1999 Special Prize of Masters for Abbas Kiarostami at the 18th Istanbul International Film Festival, Turkey
1999 Jury Special Prize for The Wind Will Carry Us at the 56th Venice International Film Festival, Italy
1999 FIPRESCI Award for The Wind Will Carry Us at the 56th Venice International Film Festival, Italy
1999 The Youth Prize of Future Cinema for The Wind Will Carry Us at the 56th Venice International Film Festival, Italy
1999 Golden Plaque of Panorama of European Cinema for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami, Athens, Greece
1999 Audience Award, 28th Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Canada
1999 Honorary Golden Alexander Prize for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 40th Thessaloniki International Film Festival, Greece
1999 Special Prize for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami at the 21st Montpellier International Mediterranean Film Festival, France
1999 Selected as the Most Outstanding Filmmaker of ’90s at the Polling of Cinematheque Ontario, Canada 2000
2000 The Best Filmmaker of ’90s, Film Comment Poll, USA
1378 Selection of And Life Goes On… as the 2nd, Under The Olive Trees as the 3rd, Close Up as the 5th, and Taste of Cherry as the 9th Best Films of the 1990s by Cinematheque Ontario
2000 Honorary Prize of the 18th Fajr International Film festival for Film Career of Abbas Kiarostami, Tehran, Iran
2000 The Golden Dolphin of Kish Island for Lifetime Achievement in Cinema, Iran
2000 Plaque of First Human Rights Declaration of the University of California at Berkeley, USA
2000 Akira Kurosawa Honorary Award of the 43rd San Francisco International Film Festival, USA
2000 Special Plaque of Lebanese Ministry of Culture and Art, Lebanon
2000 Lifetime Achievement Award for Abbas Kiarostami at the 3rd Beirut Film Festival, Lebanon
2000 Poetic Cinema Award of Recanati, Italy
2000 A Glance at the World Cinema’s The first prize of the 7th International Belgrade Film Festival for The Wind Will Carry US, Yugoslavia
2001 Lifetime Achievement Award for Abbas Kiarostami at the 25th Cairo Film Festival, Egypt
2001 Special Award, 12th Damascus International Film Festival
2003 Honorary doctorate, École Normale Supérieure, France
2003 The Konrad Wolf Prize, The Academy of Arts, Berlin, Germany
2004 Praemium Imperiale Prize in Film and Theater, Japan
2005 Gold Leopard of Honor, Locarno film festival
2005 Lifetime Achievement Award, 2nd Reykjavík Film Festival, Iceland
2005 Fellowship of the British Film Institute
2005 Marrakech Film Festival’s Honorary Award
2006 Prix Henri-Langlois Prize, France
2006 Honorary Prize, 16th Films From the South Festival, Oslo, Norway
2007 World’s Great Masters, Kolkata International Film Festival
2008 Glory to the Filmmaker Award, Venice Film Festival
2008 Jaam-e Jahan-Nama (Cup of Jamshid) Award from Iranian Short Film Association, Tehran, Iran
2010 The Best Actress Award for Juliette Binoche, Cannes Film Festival, France
2010 Espiga de Oro Largometraje for Certified Copy, Valladolid International Film Festival, Seminci, Spain
2010 CineMerit Award, Munich Film Festival
2010 Lifetime Achievement Awar, 5th Batumi Film Festival, Georgia
2011 San Francisco Film Critics Circle’s Best Foreign Language Film for Certified Copy
2012 Selection of Close-Up as the 42nd Film, The Sight & Sound Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time
2013 The Order of the Rising Sun (Kyokujitsu Shoujusho), Gold Rays with Rosette, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
2014 Lifetime Achievement Prize in Art, 51st International Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, Turkey
2014 Austrian Decoration for Science and Art, Republic of Austria
2016 Tomas Gutierrez Alea International Film Award by the Association of Cuban Writers, Havana, Cuba
2016 Selection of Certified Copy as the 45th film, and 10 as the 97th film, BBC Culture’s The 21st Century’s 100 Greatest Films
2016 Asian Filmmaker of the Year, Busan International Film Festival, South Korea
2017 Jean Renoir Award, the Writers Guild of America
2017 the Writers Guild of America, West’s 2017 Jean Renoir Award for International Screenwriting Achievement
2018 Special Prize, 14th Eurasia Film Festival, Kazakhstan
2018 Selection of Close-Up as the 39th film, Where Is My Friend’s House? as the 94th film, and Taste of Cherry as the 97th Film BBC Culture’s The 100 Greatest Foreign-language Films
1995 Pinacoteca Casa Rusca, Locarno
1996 Reale Albergo dei Poveri, Palerme
2000 Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York
Fondazione Bevilacqua la Masa, Venise
2001 Teatro Calderon, Valladolid
2003 Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Turin
Mitsokushi Gallery, Tokyo et Nagoya
2004 Praemium Imperiale Medal, Sakakura Junzo Memorial, Gallery Saka, Tokyo
Museum of Contemporary Art, Tehran
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nantes
Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessalonique
Armando Alvares Penteado Foundation, Sao Paulo
Castel dell’Ovo, Naples
Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes, Lisbonne
Hakone Museum of Arts, Hakone
2005 Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Palazzo d’Accursio, Sala d’Ercole, Bologna
Kumho Museum of Art, Seoul
Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade
2006 Akbank Sanat, Istanbul
Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou
Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai
Stenersenmuseet, Oslo
Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires
2007 The Museum of Modern Art, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Centre, New York
University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
2008 Santa Maria della Scala, Sienne
CIOCCA, Milan
Musée des Tapisseries, Aix-en-Provence
Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, Florida
Beijing Art Museum of the Imperial City, Pékin
2009 Meem Gallery, Dubai
2010 Galerie de France, Paris
2012 Situation Kunst, Kunstammlungen der Ruhr – Université de Bochum
Galerie Lucy Mackintosh, Lausanne
2013 Museum Wiesbaden
Kunstammlungen Chemnitz
2015 Aga Khan Museum, Toronto
2016 CerModern, Ankara

Films on Him

(not complete yet)

76′ and 15″ with Abbas Kiarostami

A photographer and longtime friend of Kiarostami, Seifollah Samadian has put together some footage of his moments with Kiarostami, his travel photography, filmmaking, and more.

Abbas Kiarostami: The Art of Living

Drawing on face-to-face dialogues with the director, as well as interviews with critics and noted film scholars, Collins and Daly provide insights into the work of a little-known but highly influential cinematic visionary.

See All Films on Abbas Kiarostami

Books on Him

(not complete yet)