Abbas Kiarostami: Persian Rug Film and an Old-School Interview

Movie Poster House Tour: Taste of Cherry
Creative Commons License photo credit: fimoculousWhen discussing Iranian film, which you will have to do at some point in your life if you are an Iranian living abroad, there are really only a handful of names you need to know to sound fancy. For instance, to prove you’re up on film history, the classic Dariush Mehrjui is important to know. If you are in a crowd of non-Iranians, you don’t even need to have seen his seminal (use that word) film The Cow because it is so freaking hard to track down a copy that a lot of self-professed film buffs haven’t seen it, either. [Correction: Mariam notes The Cow is on Netflix, and so are other Mehrjui films. Thanks, Mariam!] And when it comes to feminist Iranian films, the most popular director is probably Tahmineh Milani, so you’ll want to pull a fast one with a mention of Rakhshan Bani-Etemad instead.

But the name at the top of the list for proving your Iranian film literacy is definitely Abbas Kiarostami. With his dark glasses and reputation for smart, moody movies, Kiarostami is one of those people who is so prolific that it is almost annoying: He writes! He makes films! He’s a photographer! He paints! And he’s a poet! It is exhausting and intimidating even to think about how much he has accomplished. But it’s also pretty awesome to share a cultural heritage with him.

Word is, AK is now filming his first picture outside of Iran, Roonevesht Barabar Asl Ast (or, “Certified Copy”) with French actress Juliette Binoche. But he also recently made a short film about Persian rugs that’s very pretty (hat-tip: Iranian.com):

But if you are more about interviews and less into poetry or Persian rugs (and I don’t blame you), definitely check out this interview that looks like it was made in the 1980s. Kiarostami is sporting a mini-afro and awesome brown-tinted aviator shades, which makes it a worthwhile video in and of itself, but he also talks at some length about how he hates movies that are manipulative or upset their audiences – and says that films that make you fall asleep are the best:

For more on Mr. K, check out this interview by the blog Subtitles of Cinema, and this Q&A with Deborah Solomon in the New York Times, in which Kiarostami says he loves driving so much that he would have become a truck driver if he hadn’t become a filmmaker.