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Abbas Kiarostami: Image Maker

July 7, 2007 - August 30, 2007

And Life Goes On, August 4, 11

"When Satyajit Ray passed on, I was very depressed. But after seeing Kiarostami's films, I thanked God for giving us just the right person to take his place."—Akira Kurosawa

"We are living in the era of Kiarostami, but don't yet know it."—Werner Herzog

One of the most critically acclaimed and influential filmmakers of the past twenty-five years, Abbas Kiarostami (b. 1940) is the equivalent of a Godard, Kurosawa, or Fellini—a director whose films have given new direction to world cinema. Honing his craft as a documentary filmmaker concerned with the lives of children in Iran, he later gained a following in the West with a series of remarkable films that were at once documentary and fiction, "real" and created (And Life Goes On, Close-Up, Through the Olive Trees, and Where Is the Friend's Home?). Kiarostami solidified his standing with Taste of Cherry, which shared the Palme d'or at Cannes in 1997, and with 1999's The Wind Will Carry Us. Starting with the barest of scripts, and improvising specifics with his nonprofessional casts, Kiarostami crafts fictions that are barely removed from real life, works of deceptive simplicity and indefinable poetry that philosophize on how we film reality, view reality, and most of all, how we understand reality. In recent years he's nearly abandoned narrative cinema, instead channeling his passion for photography and fine art (he studied painting and design at Tehran University) into digital video works such as Five, a Buddhist-like study of the rhythms and beauty of the natural world.

We are proud to present this Kiarostami retrospective, which captures each stage of the director's remarkable career, along with a companion exhibition of his photography in the BAM galleries. Together they showcase an artist who has not only entered the pantheon of world cinema, but refigured our very idea of what "cinema" can be.

For the Family
Many of Kiarostami's films, especially his rarely screened early works made for the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, speak to adults and youths alike in their poetic, often humorous evocation of the world of young people in Iran. The Traveler, The Experience, The Wedding Suit, and Where Is the Friend's Home are all particularly suitable for younger viewers.

Jason Sanders
Associate Film Notes Writer

Saturday, July 7, 2007
8:00 p.m. The Wind Will Carry Us
A television crew arrives at a remote Kurdish village to await a mourning ritual. While they wait for death, life happens. "A stunningly lyrical and eloquent exploration of both rural village life and the nature of artistic responsibility."—N.Y. Times. Repeated on Thursday, August 30.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007
7:30 p.m. The Traveler
A young boy in a rural village schemes and dreams his way to a soccer match in Tehran in Kiarostami's first feature, similar to The 400 Blows. With shorts So Can I and Two Solutions for One Problem. Repeated on Saturday, July 14.

Saturday, July 14, 2007
4:30 p.m. The Experience
Kiarostami's wonderful, nearly wordless portrait of a young photographer's assistant who nurses a crush on a girl beyond his reach. With shorts Bread and Alley and Recess. Repeated on Thursday, July 19.

Saturday, July 14, 2007
6:30 p.m. The Traveler
With shorts. Please see Tuesday, July 10.

Thursday, July 19, 2007
7:00 p.m. The Wedding Suit
An O. Henry–like story of a wedding suit "borrowed" from the tailor's for a night explores the world of working youths in the shops and streets of Tehran. "Great suspense is built by purely visual means, recalling the apparent simplicity of neorealism."—MoMA, N.Y. With shorts Colors and Solution No. 1. Repeated on Saturday, July 21.

Thursday, July 19, 2007
8:45 p.m. The Experience
With shorts. Please see Saturday, July 14.

Saturday, July 21, 2007
4:30 p.m. The Wedding Suit
With shorts. Please see Thursday, July 19.

Saturday, July 21, 2007
6:30 p.m. Close-Up
"Kiarostami, in semi-documentary mode, re-creates the true story of an unemployed dreamer—an ardent cinephile—who passes himself off as the director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, a fraudulent act that becomes both an homage and a fresh work of art."—New Yorker. With Film School of Hossein Sabzian. Repeated on Saturday, August 18.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007
7:30 p.m. Fellow Citizen
Bossy citizens invent countless reasons why a traffic cop should let them pass in Kiarostami's satiric example of humanity's capacity for lying—that is, telling stories. With shorts Orderly or Disorderly and The Chorus. Repeated on Thursday, August 9.

Saturday, July 28, 2007
4:30 p.m. First-Graders
Play meets punishment in Kiarostami's documentary on first-graders reporting for their first day of school. Repeated on Thursday, August 9.

Saturday, July 28, 2007
6:30 p.m. Where Is the Friend’s Home?
This beautiful picture of the life of a child in a northern Iranian village is the first of Kiarostami's beloved Koker trilogy. Repeated on Saturday, August 25.

Saturday, July 28, 2007
8:30 p.m. Homework
In a series of interviews with grade-school boys on the topic of homework, much is revealed on the topic of life. Repeated on Saturday, August 25.

Saturday, August 4, 2007
6:30 p.m. And Life Goes On
Kiarostami seeks to find out the fate of the now–earthquake devastated area of Koker and Poshteh from Where Is the Friend's Home? and finds willing actors among the survivors. Repeated on Saturday, August 11.

Saturday, August 4, 2007
8:30 p.m. Through the Olive Trees
The Koker trilogy's last film, "which follows the misadventures of a crew shooting a film in rural Iran, at first seems to be a joke about the way life resists being turned into a movie, but it becomes a better joke about a movie that transforms life."—New Yorker

Tuesday, August 7, 2007
7:30 p.m. Rugs, Roads, and Palaces: Short Films by Abbas Kiarostami
A chance to see Kiarostami's rare 1977 film on the restoration of one of the Shah's residencies, Jahan-Nama Palace; a "tour" of a unique Persian carpet, Rug; Birth of Light, filmed in Japan; and the estimable Roads of Kiarostami, a poetic meditation on photography, beauty, and destruction.

Thursday, August 9, 2007
7:00 p.m.  First-Graders
Please see Saturday, July 28.

Thursday, August 9, 2007
8:45 p.m. Fellow Citizen
With shorts. Please see Tuesday, July 24.

Saturday, August 11, 2007
6:30 p.m. Taste of Cherry
The Cannes prizewinning mystery of a man seemingly in his prime who searches the dusty hills of rural Iran for someone to help him commit suicide. Naturally, everyone he meets has an opinion on the subject. "A masterpiece."—The Nation. With short Birth of Light.

Saturday, August 11, 2007
8:35 p.m. And Life Goes On
Please see Saturday, August 4.

Thursday, August 16, 2007
7:00 p.m. Ten
In the front seat of her car, a young urban divorcee grapples with her anxieties in this "courageous, instinctive film . . . sometimes funny, sometimes moving, always engrossing . . . offering a new model of filmmaking that reaches deep into human behavior and concerns."—Variety. With short Roads of Kiarostami.

Saturday, August 18, 2007
8:00 p.m. Close-Up
With featurette. Please see Saturday, July 21.

Thursday, August 23, 2007
7:00 p.m. ABC Africa
Kiarostami's first film made outside of Iran is this stirring, poetic documentary on AIDS orphans in Uganda: "A film without borders."—indieWire. "An ode to life, as embodied by the vitality of the Ugandan people."—MoMA, N.Y.

Thursday, August 23, 2007
8:45 p.m. Five
Dedicated to Yasujiro Ozu, Kiarostami's serene cinematic nature studies, shot mostly along the Caspian Sea, recall Andy Warhol and the landscape works of James Benning. "Remarkably captivating, like a perfectly crafted object of contemplation."—Village Voice

Saturday, August 25, 2007
6:30 p.m. Where Is the Friend’s Home?
Please see Saturday, July 28.

Saturday, August 25, 2007
8:30 p.m. Homework
Please see Saturday, July 28.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007
7:30 p.m. Five
Please see Thursday, August 23.

Thursday, August 30, 2007
7:00 p.m. 10 on Ten
From the master himself, thoughts on filmmaking as a journey, delivered from—where else?—the front seat of his car while driving around Taste of Cherry's dusty landscapes. "An incisive, sometimes funny, and often provocative contemplation of the art of cinema."—MoMA, N.Y.

Thursday, August 30, 2007
9:00 p.m. The Wind Will Carry Us
Please see Saturday, July 7.

Abbas Kiarostami: Image Maker is copresented by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, in collaboration with the Iranian Art Foundation. It was curated by Jytte Jensen, curator, Department of Film, and Klaus Biesenbach, chief curator, Department of Media, The Museum of Modern Art. At PFA, the film series was coordinated by Kathy Geritz. We are grateful for the cooperation of Kanoon: Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (Tehran), Farabi (Tehran), MK2 (Paris), Zeitgeist Films, New Yorker Films, and Miramax Films. We would like to extend our gratitude to Jytte Jensen (MoMA), Maryam Bafekrpour (Kanoon), Ian Birnie (LACMA), Maryam Horri (Iranian Art Foundation), and Ahmad Kiarostami, without whose generous support and assistance this series would not have been possible.

Program notes for short films are adapted from MoMA publications.