Abbas Kiarostami (1940 - 2016) was an internationally acclaimed Iranian film director and screenwriter. An active filmmaker since 1970, Kiarostami has been involved in over forty films, including shorts and documentaries, and attained critical acclaim for directing the Koker Trilogy (1987-1994), Cannes Film Festival 1997’s Palme d’Or winner A Taste of Cherry (1997), The Wind Will Carry Us (1999), Certified Copy (2010), and Like Someone in Love (2012). In 2016, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) held a retrospective of Kiarostami’s career at TIFF Bell Lightbox (Toronto) to recognize his ability to “[deepen] our understanding of Iran, as well as time and space itself, his films embraced humanity. They welcomed stillness and contemplation, memory and understanding.” Kiarostami left such an impact on the history of world cinema that the legendary French director Jean-Luc Godard once remarked “film begins with D.W. Griffith and ends with Abbas Kiarostami.”
Whereas his movies tackle polemical and metaphysical questions through intimate and humble meditations on the featured characters, Kiarostami’s photographs tend to capture the more conventional themes of landscape and nature. For example, his photographic series Untitled Photographs is a collection of over thirty photographs, essentially of snow landscapes, taken in his hometown Tehran, between 1978 and 2003. Kiarostami has a simple approach to photographic subjects, taking pictures of a rainy windshield. Yet these subtle scenes represent contemplative and poetic moments to revel in and provide relief from urban life by offering an escape to the natural world. Kiarostami’s photographs have been exhibited at PS1 Contemporary Art Center (New York) and MoMA - Museum of Modern Art (New York) in 2007. Since then, they have travelled internationally to London, Toronto, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ankara, Hong Kong, Paris, Oslo, Shang Hai among other major cities.
Kiarostami was also an accomplished poet. Along with Ridley Scott, Jean Cocteau, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Derek Jarman and Gulzar, Kiarostami was part of a tradition of filmmakers whose artistic expressions are not restricted to one medium; their practices included other forms such as poetry, set designs, painting, or photography to relate their interpretation of the world we live in and to illustrate their understanding of our preoccupations and identities. His bilingual collection of more than 200 poems, Walking with the Wind, was published by Harvard University Press in 2002.