Abbas Kiarostami is a film director, producer, and writer of Iranian descent. He was born in Tehran on January 10, 1942.

His first feature film was “Boycott”, which he directed in 1969. In the following years he made several short films and documentaries before directing his first feature film “Close-Up”, in 1977.

Who Is Abbas Kiarostami?

He is known for his philosophical style of filmmaking and for his commitment to realist cinema.

His films often explore human relationships and personal interactions as well as the nature of truth, memory and time.

His work has been recognized with numerous awards including an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for “Certified Copy” (France/Iran), a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film (Italy), a BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film (France),

two Cannes Film Festival Awards (including Best Director), four Berlin International Film Festivals Awards (including Golden Bear) and three Venice Film Festivals Awards (including Golden Lion).

Best Abbas Kiarostami Films

Close-Up is a film about people and their obsession with the camera. It’s about how we relate to the world around us, and our desire to capture it on film.

The story follows a family of amateur photographers who are documenting everything that happens in their lives, from birthdays to weddings,

from parties to funerals. The father of the family has recently lost his wife and is struggling with depression. He takes his camera everywhere with him, even when he goes out for walks or visits friends or family members at their homes – everything is documented by him in some way or another,

even if it’s only with a photograph taken by an acquaintance or friend of his wife who also works with photography.

The cinematography is stunning in this film, which was shot primarily on location using hand-held cameras and handheld microphones.

There are many shots where characters are framed against blank white walls while they talk to each other or look through photographs taken by others;

these shots seem like stills from a staged photo shoot except you know that those walls aren’t there for decoration and that those people aren’t actors playing parts

1. Taste of Cherry (1997)              

 Taste of Cherry is a 1997 Iranian drama film directed by Abbas Kiarostami. The film was shot in the town of Kermanshah, Iran. It tells the story of a middle-aged couple who are living in Tehran, their relationship and its problems. It has been called one of Kiarostami’s best films.

In Taste of Cherry, Kiarostami explores themes such as marriage, adultery and life after death through the eyes of two married couples living in Tehran: Mehdi (Hossein Sadr), an architect; and his wife Neda (Taraneh Alidousti), who works at a publishing house; and Shadi (Soltan Samavati), a young educated man married to Azar (Fatemeh Motamed).

The film received positive reviews from critics upon its release; it won the Prix du Jury at the Cannes Film Festival and had screenings at many other festivals around the world.[1][2]

Taste of Cherry
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Homayoun Ershadi, Abdolrahman Bagheri, Afshin Khorshid Bakhtiari (Actors)
  • Abbas Kiarostami (Director) - Abbas Kiarostami (Writer) - Abbas Kiarostami (Producer)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

2. Close-Up (1990)          

 Close-Up is a 1990 Iranian drama film directed by Abbas Kiarostami. It is the second part of a trilogy of films, which follows like a documentary on day-to-day life in Iran. It was filmed in black and white.

The film follows four people who are at different stages of their lives. They are all sitting in their living room discussing the same topic: what it means to be an adult. The first person to appear is an older man named Ali who is married and has been working for years as a driver for a local television station.

He has two children, a son named Ahmadinejad and daughter named Moharram, but he is struggling to support them both because he does not have enough money to provide for his family’s needs. The second person we see is a young woman named Fatemeh who is also married and has two children; one son named Seyyed and another daughter named Mona.

She works as an accountant at a local government office, earning enough money so that she can pay her bills but not enough money so that she can live comfortably. The third person we see is an older man named Mansour who owns his own business called “Mansour” which sells curtains

Close-Up (English Subtitled)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Hosein Sabzian, Hassan Farazmand, Mehrdad Ahankhah (Actors)
  • Abbas Kiarostami (Director) - Abbas Kiarostami (Writer) - Hassan Agha Karimi (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

3. Crimson Gold (2003) 

 In Crimson Gold, Kiarostami’s most recent film, the director creates a relaxed and graceful work of art, one that is as much about the beauty of everyday life as it is about the nature of love. Shot in Italy and Iran,

this romantic comedy explores the relationship between an Iranian couple who are separated by social and cultural differences. While their love for each other remains constant, they must face the difficulties of reuniting after so many years apart.

Kiarostami’s lens captures all aspects of life with a sensitivity that is rarely seen in today’s cinema. The film’s cinematography is so charmingly lush that viewers may be tempted to close their eyes during some scenes because they don’t want to miss any aspect of this world that seems so familiar yet also so foreign at the same time.

In addition to its beautiful imagery, Crimson Gold offers viewers a rare window into an Iranian community that has been isolated from Western culture for many years due to religious restrictions imposed by the regime in power at the time (the Islamic Republic).

As such, this film represents a rare opportunity for Iranians both within and outside their country to learn about each other’s cultures through cinema

Crimson Gold
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Hossain Emadeddin, Pourang Nakhael, Azita Rayej (Actors)
  • Jafar Panahi (Director) - Abbas Kiarostami (Writer) - Jafar Panahi (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

4. Through the Olive Trees (1994)

This film is the story of a young man named Ali who has just returned from winning the marathon in Munich. He has a long drive ahead of him, so he stops at a roadside cafe for some refreshment.

While he waits for his food, he takes out his guitar and plays a few simple tunes on it. Then he sits down at one of the tables and begins to sing along with one of his own songs: Through the Olive Trees.

The waitress brings Ali his meal, but when she sees him sitting there singing alone, she hangs back, unsure whether to approach him or not. Finally she does, and when she sees what he’s doing she stops cold in her tracks.

She can’t believe that this man is singing while he eats! But then when Ali finishes eating and gets up to leave, she realizes that this isn’t just any ordinary man – it’s actually Ali Karimi (who played himself in this film).

5. The Wind Will Carry Us (1999)

This is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. It’s a film that has everything: beautiful cinematography, a great story, and great acting by all involved. The film is about two young men who travel across Iran to visit their families.

They travel by bus, train and car. The film begins with their journey in a car from Tehran to Mashhad on November 4th 1989 (the day after the Iranian Revolution). The camera follows them as they drive through the countryside and watch their surroundings change from rural villages to small towns to larger cities.

The first part of the film is very fast paced, with many scenes lasting only minutes or seconds. It’s difficult to understand what’s happening at first but once you get used to it it makes sense because all the characters are talking about their lives or what they plan on doing when they get there.

I liked how there was no music in these scenes because it gave me more time to relax and enjoy what I was watching instead of listening to loud music while trying not to miss anything that was going on around me

The Wind Will Carry Us [1999] [DVD]
  • Polish Release, cover may contain Polish text/markings. The disk has English audio.
  • English (Subtitle)

6. Where Is the Friend’s House? (1987) 

In this early film, Kiarostami’s camera is a familiar presence in the heroine’s home. The camera is rarely still or static, but it moves between the rooms and through the house with great fluidity, often pausing to look at something before moving on to another place.

The camera follows the heroine as she moves around her apartment, but also remains focused on her face as she speaks to others and interacts with objects around her. The camera’s movement is indicative of the fluid nature of human interaction in this film;

we see people interacting with one another as they each move through their lives, even if they are not aware of it at first.

The camera’s movement also reflects how we tend to exist in our own worlds and not be fully aware of what is happening around us until we interact with them or something else affects our perspective (like memory).

We can only know about other people through interaction with them or by seeing them through the lens of a camera; thus, we have no way of knowing other people’s thoughts or emotions without some kind of direct communication being established first between them and ourselves (which doesn’t happen too often).

Where Is the Friend's Home? [VHS]
  • Babek Ahmed Poor, Ahmed Ahmed Poor, Kheda Barech Defai (Actors)
  • Abbas Kiarostami (Director) - Abbas Kiarostami (Writer) - Ali Reza Zarrin (Producer)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

7. Certified Copy (2010)

Certified Copy is a feature-length documentary about the making of Kiarostami’s first feature film, Certified Copy (1988). The film follows three different directors as they prepare for their own work on this movie. Each director brings his own style to the production and uses different methods to capture the same events.

   

The first director focuses on storyboards, while another tries to shoot by hand. The third director conducts rehearsals with actors, hoping to find a way to tell the story that will feel natural in each scene.

Kiarostami spends much of his time in Iran, where he shoots scenes in classic Iranian locations such as Tehran’s Chahar Bagh Square and Isfahan Castle. He travels to London and Paris to interview actors who have worked with him before, including Shahab Hosseini, who plays an actor in his film And Life Goes On… (1997).

The film shows how each director has tried to capture something unique while maintaining a connection with its source material. It also illustrates how each director had a different idea of what “authentic” means when it comes to recreating reality on screen.”

8. Like Someone in Love (2012) 

The film is set in the Iranian city of Shiraz and focuses on a young woman named Shima (Leila Hatami) who is pregnant with her boyfriend’s child. The couple have been together for several years and are expecting their first child,

but Shima’s family disapproves of the relationship because he comes from a lower class background and she comes from a more affluent one.

Shima’s family has been pressuring her to have an abortion, but she refuses to do so because she believes that God will save her unborn child. While Shima is preparing for a religious ceremony for her pregnancy,

she meets an older man named Kamal (Majid Jalilzadeh) who works at the same hospital as her mother. Kamal seems interested in Shima’s mother but it becomes clear that he has ulterior motives when he asks her to be his wife.

Like Someone in Love was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but it lost out to Amour (2012) by Michael Haneke.

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9. And Life Goes On (1992)

In the early 1990s, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami made a series of films that took a critical look at his native country’s political system and culture. His most famous film is the 1992 masterpiece And Life Goes On, which examines the lives of two men who live in different parts of Tehran.

The first man is a doctor who drives around town at night, collecting discarded objects to sell as scrap metal. The second man is an unemployed father who spends his time watching television and playing with his son. These two men are united by their lack of success or fulfillment in life;

they have nothing to do but watch television and play with their children. Their lives are empty and meaningless, but they continue on nonetheless because there is nothing else left for them to do.

The film shows us how these two men spend their days: going from house to house in search of discarded objects, sometimes even looking for things that have been thrown away by accident; watching television sets that are left turned off for hours at a time;

driving around aimlessly; getting involved in arguments with each other over trivial matters such as parking spaces and something called “chicken” (which apparently means nothing);

Life Goes on
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Pilato, Herbie J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 328 Pages - 09/09/2007 (Publication Date) - BearManor Media (Publisher)

10. Ten (2002)

 In his 2002 film, Ten, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami employs an almost impenetrable syntax to explore the meaning of life. Shot in a single take with no cuts or edits, the movie follows a man named Simin as she takes a bus ride through Tehran.

As she moves from one spot to another, we see her changing clothes and interacting with fellow passengers. With no dialogue, the movie seems like a silent film but it’s actually shot in English with French subtitles.

Her journey is brief and doesn’t seem to have any real purpose other than to give us an idea of what it’s like to be an Iranian woman living in modern-day Iran. The film seems more about human interaction rather than storytelling and that’s what makes it so interesting.

Through Simin’s interactions with strangers on the bus, we get insight into how people live their lives right now in Iran – especially women – and what it means to be a woman who wants equality in society.”

Ten
  • Mania Akbari, Amin Maher, Kamran Adl (Actors)
  • Abbas Kiarostami (Director) - Abbas Kiarostami (Writer) - Abbas Kiarostami (Producer)
  • English (Subtitle)

11. Homework (1989)   

 In the film “Homework,” a young man, who is the only son of a Persian family, goes to work for his father in his grocery store. The father’s name is Isfandiar and he has just opened the store. He has been doing this for many years and is quite successful in this business. He decides to take his son along with him as an apprentice.

The son, whose name is also Abbas, starts working with his father as an apprentice in their store after school. He works hard during his spare time and learns how to do all kinds of things around the store including cooking and cleaning up after customers.

One day Abbas meets a woman named Simin who works at another store nearby where they sell household items like detergent, toilet paper and so on. She asks him if she can come by later that evening to give him some money that her husband left her with instructions not to spend it on anything else but food or clothing for herself or her children.

Abbas accepts her offer and gives her some money from his own pocket which she uses to buy food from a nearby shop run by a man named Saeed who sells both imported and domestic foods including rice which

12. The Traveler (1974)

The Traveler is one of the most important films in the history of Iranian cinema. It’s one of those films that, once you’ve seen it, you’ll never forget.

It’s also an extremely difficult film to describe and analyze. The images are so simple and beautiful that they seem to float on the screen before your eyes, like paintings by Van Gogh or Gauguin.

The story is incredibly simple: a man goes to a cafe and meets a woman who tells him she knows something about his past. He says he’s not interested in talking about his past; he wants to know about hers.

And then they talk about their lives and how they were raised in Iran during the revolution, which was very different from how things were under Khomeini now.

The director, Abbas Kiarostami, has described The Traveler as “a kind of thriller,” but he said that it isn’t really a thriller because there isn’t much suspense or action in it — it’s more like a piece of literature than a movie. But even though I wouldn’t call it

The Universal Traveler
  • Hardcover Book
  • Koberg & Bagnall (Author)
  • 12/06/1974 (Publication Date) - Kaufmann inc. (Publisher)

13. The White Balloon (1995)

This film is a documentary-like tale of a poor family living in the slums of Tehran. The mother is dying, and they have no money to pay for her medical bills. The father has lost his job and is now forced to find work as a taxi driver.

He decides to sell his old bicycle, which he has kept for many years as a symbol of freedom and its power over him, to buy medicine for his wife.

The boy who used to love riding on the bicycle now wants it back so that he can sell it again and use the money to help his mother. He does not want to get involved in this transaction but feels compelled by his father’s determination. When he tries to return the bicycle after selling it,

however, he finds that there is nothing left of it except an old saddle lying on the ground with a single white balloon tied around it.

The boy realizes that this could be an omen although nobody else seems aware of its significance: “It was only one balloon, but it seemed like there were ten thousand balloons tied together.” The boy takes the balloon with him because he knows that once he has sold it again he will have earned a lot more money than before and

The White Balloon 1995 Vintage Movie Poster, Movie Wall Art (Unframed Paper, 24x36)
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14. Tickets (2005)

In a film that takes place over the course of a single day, Kiarostami asks questions about the nature of time, memory and identity. The film revolves around a series of conversations between two men: one elderly and one young.

The older man tells his younger companion how he proposed to his wife on their wedding day, and how she rejected him. The younger man asks if he would still have married her if she had accepted.

The two men are seated at an outdoor cafe in Tehran where they meet each other for the first time. Their conversation is interrupted by an older man who tells them that they should leave because the police are coming to arrest them for having been caught drinking beer in public during Ramadan.

They leave and continue talking until nightfall when they return to the same place where they had left off earlier in the day. The older man tells his companion how he had tried to run away from home but was caught by his mother who locked him up in his bedroom until morning so that he would not go out again; then she called the police who took him away for interrogation.

The younger man then tells

Tickets [2005] [DVD]
  • English (Subtitle)

Characteristics of Abbas Kiarostami Films

The most distinctive feature of Kiarostami’s films is their rootedness in the real world. They are not surrealistic or fantastic, but rather depict ordinary people, who are usually shown interacting with each other in a realistic way.

His characters are drawn from everyday life: they work, go to school, have children and suffer losses. They are not stereotypically “good” or “bad”; they are just human beings like us.

In this way his films can be described as socially engaged, since they critique social problems while also showing us how to resolve them.

His films often contain a sense of humor that is sometimes misread by critics as patronizing or condescending; in fact it is just one more way for him to put us in touch with his characters’ humanity by using humor as an effective tool for empathy.

He often makes use of arresting visual compositions which serve as a kind of visual shorthand for what is going on (for example the vanishing point motif).

The camera position itself becomes a character in its own right and serves as an instrument for conveying the filmmaker’s point of view about reality (for example when we see everything from a child’s perspective).

Best Abbas Kiarostami Films – Wrapping Up

I’ve been a fan of Abbas Kiarostami for years, and I’m not going to pretend I don’t have some bias here. But it’s not like I can pick my favorite films from his repertoire; they’re all too good for that.

So instead of picking one, I’ll just list out my favorites in order of how much I like them (and if any of them are new to you, click on the title):

Close-Up (1990) – This is an odd one because it feels like it could be an independent film. It looks like a documentary of sorts, but there are no interviews or voiceover narration.

The lighting and cinematography are very simple, which makes it feel more real than most documentaries do. It also has this great sense of playfulness throughout where he just keeps pushing the camera forward while two people dance around him.

The Wind Will Carry Us (2002) – This film might seem like a stretch from Kiarostami’s previous films, but it manages to retain some of his signature themes while still being new and different at the same time.

 

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