Films byTexts by Abbas Kiarostami

Abbas Kiarostami (1940–2016) was an Iranian filmmaker, screenwriter, poet and photographer born in Tehran. Kiarostami made nearly 50 films, making him a major figure in the history of cinema of the 20th century. After a brief period of combining studies in fine arts, to become a painter, with a job in traffic police, Kiarostami quickly turned to film through the world of TV commercials, making over 150 of them between 1960 and 1969. In 1969, Kiarostami was invited to head the film unit of the newly formed Center for the Intellectual Development of Child and Adolescent (Kanun). Under its auspices, he would make his first film, also Kanun’s first-ever production, Nan va Koutcheh [The Bread and Alley] (1970). Initially assigned to make educational films, Kiarostami was able to explore different cinematic pathways, though still aiming to develop a particular kind of pedagogical cinema, in effect laying the groundwork for his future style of filmmaking. In 1987, he made his first feature film, likewise his last film in black-and-white, Khane-ye doust kodjast? [Where Is the Friend’s House] introducing the so-called Koker Trilogy, which also includes Zendegi va digar hich [And Life Goes On] (1992) (also known as Life and Nothing More) and Zire darakhatan zeyton [Through the Olive Trees] (1994). Two of his subsequent films, Ta'm e guilass [Taste of Cherry] (1997) and Bad ma ra khahad bord [The Wind will Carry Us] (1999), won the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Silver Lion (Grand Jury Prize) at the Venice International Film Festival respectively. Kiarostami’s last film 24 Frames (2017) was released posthumously.

The Bread and Alley
Abbas Kiarostami, 1970, 10’

A little boy makes his way home clutching a loaf of bread. In an alley, a stray dog blocks his path.


“The mother of all my films.”
Abbas Kiarostami


Two Solutions for One Problem
Abbas Kiarostami, 1975, 5’

This simple moral tale seems to prefigure Where Is the Friend’s House? Two young schoolboys, Dara and Nader, are friends until Dara returns Nader’s notebook torn and Nader retaliates in kind, setting off an escalating battle that leads to destruction of property and physical injury.

So Can I
Abbas Kiarostami, 1975, 4’

The first of Kiarostami’s films made for, rather than about, children was an experiment in combining live action and animation, done in collaboration with animator Nafiseh Riahi.

The Colors
Abbas Kiarostami, 1976, 16’

Ostensibly a film for children, this picture book essay about the range of hues that brighten our world has the air of a delightfully playful formalistic exercise.

Tribute to the Teachers
Abbas Kiarostami, 1977, 20’

An assignment from Iran’s Ministry of Education, this documentary from the last years of the Pahlavi dynasty includes interviews with officials who predictably praise teaching as a sacred, noble, and honorable profession.

Abbas Kiarostami, 1980, 25’

Though much of this film is a straightforward lecture on dental hygiene delivered by a dentist facing the camera, it still manages to be persuasively Kiarostami-esque in its description of young Mohammad-Reza’s life at home and at school before he falls prey to tooth woes.

Where Is the Friend’s Home?
Abbas Kiarostami, 1987, 87’

Eight-year-old Ahmed has mistakenly taken his friend Mohammad’s notebook. He wants to return it, or else his friend will be expelled from school. The boy determinedly sets out to find Mohammad’s home in the neighbouring village.


Abbas Kiarostami, 1990, 98’

Based upon a peculiar news story Kiarostami stumbled upon, the film follows an unemployed youth from Teheran called Hossein Sabzian, as he convinces an entire family that he is the well-known filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf.

Life and Nothing More...
Abbas Kiarostami, 1992, 95’

In June 1990, an earthquake of catastrophic proportions struck Northern Iran, killing tens of thousands of people and causing untold damage.

Through the Olive Trees
Abbas Kiarostami, 1994, 103’

Kiarostami takes meta-narrative gamesmanship to masterful new heights in the final installment of his celebrated Koker trilogy.

Taste of Cherry
Abbas Kiarostami, 1997, 95’

An Iranian man drives his car in search of someone who will quietly bury him under a cherry tree after he commits suicide.


Abbas Kiarostami, 2002, 91’

“For decades, classical film theory pondered on the appropriate metaphor to explain the screen: a window or a frame? Was the screen a window on the world, therefore reality captured, or, a frame, reality constructed, a painting and its frame?

Abbas Kiarostami, 2008, 92’

The faces of a hundred and fourteen famous Iranian actresses and French star Juliette Binoche as they watch a filmed adaptation of a tragic twelfth-century romance by Nezami Ganjavi in a movie theater.