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August, 2005

ABC Kiarostami

Wednesday, August 17th, 2005

prepared by Nika Bohinc

And so he came, our Abbas Kiarostami. On a lovely thursday in Gorizia, during the Amidei film festival. One of the great authors of our time. A poet, a philosopher, a painter, a photographer, all that and more. Reserved at first, he got completely relaxed when he started to talk about his work and his art. After the press conference he sat among the audience, conversed with his fans and that very evening receieved an Amidei prize for his opus. A lot has been said in these days and we have collected a few of his precious thoughts below.

On empty spaces in his film narratives

Empty spaces in my films presuppose the presence of the spectator. An art work does not belong solely to its creator.Viewers imagination can often be more vivid than that of the artist, so i want to give the viewer an opportunity to fill in all these voids and creates his own free idea of my film – this is quite similar to the way he experiences a painting.

On exploration of the boundaries between fact and fiction

Making films is my way of expressing my curiosity, it’s my quest for the truth. And i really don’t know if the truth is attainable at all. But i believe this curiosity is in everyone of us and sometimes »regular« people are much more curious than »professionals«. We can never be sure that we really trully know something or someone, which is good, since it forces us to explore, to search, even though what we are searching for cannot be revealed completely.

On actors and on making films without any scripts

When i shoot a dialogue, all the words coming out are the result of my work with the actors. I spend a lot of time with them and i am aware of what i can expect from them. If i made my actors, which are mostly not professionals, act according to the script, they would feel as though they were in school. Without the script they are much more natural and free – i let them be themselves. Lately, i don’t even have to say:”Action!”.

On film as a narrative of images and its relation to words

Dialogue and an image are two different concepts, but their relationship and interplay attracts the viewer nonetheless. There is no image that can act as a substitute for the dialogue because the dialogue is effective even if you close your eyes. Maybe i should put it this way: i have a friend and his wife often complains to me that her husband never tells her he loves her. My answer is that he is trying to tell and show her this very fact in every other possible way, just not with words.

On the eyes of a child

I’ve done a lote of films about kids and for kids when mine were little. They were a close link between my professional and private life. I’ve learned a lot from them and even now, being a director, i’d like to look at the world from their perspective. This is exceedingly difficult, even though no one can really sepatate himself from his childhood – there are always memories which, in time, attain different tones. All my films contain a part of my childhood.

On advices he gives to young film students

It is hard to give out advices, everyone has to follow his inner voice. My only advice would be that they should make films about their friends. Even though we may be in love in other director’s films, we shouldn’t immitate them, but rather use what’s within ourselves and use those close to us as subjects of our work. As an architect would put it: build your house from what surrounds you – if you live in a forest, build it from wood; if you live in the mountains, build it from stone.

On how he used to dislike going to the cinema and watch films

This was a long time a go, today i look at things differently. However, i do have to admit that every time you go to the cinema, you risk not getting what you were expecting to get. Nowadays i watch a lot of films, but still not enough. I miss a lot of good ones, but also the bad ones.

On his attitude towards television

I have no bias towards TV, but it has certainly changed a lot since i was a kid. When you have a medium that offers 500 different channels, i find it difficult to trust it, and impossible to have a personal relationship with it. This is why i cannot watch TV, we don’t have it at home. But my mother has it and when i come to visit i cannot resist flipping through the channels ceaselessly. I just can’t stop.

On the world of advertising which he left to make films

Differences between commercials and my films are so profound, viewers sometimes have difficulty believing that this is where i trully come from. I any case, the commercials were much longer in my time. What they do share with the films is the imperative to attract the viewer’s attention. In my films, i am not always successful in attaing this and i tend to lose the impatient part of the audience. For film students however, a film ad can be an overwhelmingly useful experience, the short time you have to tell your story forces you to really do your best.

On omnibus Tickets he’s done together with Olmi and Loach

Every director was shooting his own episode, all we had in common was the location and the idea. In the beginning we thought it was going to be one film with the interplay of three authors. But since we all have quite different way of work, this turned out to be impossible. I realised from this experience that a director can only work alone. In Tickets, we are talking about three very different episodes, Olmi’s part is just what i expected it to be – i’ve fallen in love with him when i first saw his Il Posto. And the episode that Loach, a dedicated social critic, has made, could not have been made by any other director.

On censorship

Last film of mine, officially screened in Iran, was Taste of a Cherry. But nowadays modern technology enables everyone interested to see all my subsequent films. So the censorship is gone – because of technology. But economically speaking, this spread of technology poses a serious blow for the cinemas.

On whether films can change the world and solve global conflicts

If i said yes, i’d be an idiot. If i said no, i’d be desperate. So: yes and no. No and yes.

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