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 haunting masterpiece that delves into the depths of the human psyche with an unparalleled level of nuance and sensitivity.

The film follows Mr. Badii, a middle-aged man who drives around Tehran in search of someone to assist him in his planned suicide.

Through a series of encounters with various individuals, including a soldier and a seminarian, Mr. Badii grapples with the weight of his decision and the complexities of life.

Director Abbas Kiarostami’s use of long takes and minimalistic storytelling creates a sense of intimacy with the characters, making their struggles all the more palpable.

The cinematography is breathtaking, capturing the stark beauty of the Iranian landscape and the sense of isolation that permeates the film.

Taste of Cherry is a thought-provoking exploration of life, death, and the human condition.


It is a film that lingers long after the credits roll, leaving the viewer with a sense of introspection and contemplation.

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 hauntingly beautiful film that blurs the line between reality and fiction.

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami, the film tells the story of a man who impersonates a famous filmmaker and ingratiates himself into the life of a middle-class family in Tehran.

As the story unfolds, we are drawn into a world that is both familiar and strange, as we become intimately acquainted with the characters and their struggles.

What makes Close-Up so compelling is its unique blend of documentary-style realism and fictional storytelling.

The film blurs the line between what is real and what is staged, creating a sense of uncertainty and tension that keeps the audience engaged throughout.

At the same time, the film is deeply human, exploring themes of identity, class, and the power of cinema to transport us to another world.

At its heart, Close-Up is a celebration of the power of storytelling. Through its masterful direction, stunning cinematography, and unforgettable performances, the film transports us to a world that is both familiar and strange, inviting us to explore the complex and often contradictory nature of human experience.

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) 

Crimson Gold is a haunting and thought-provoking film that explores the complexities of society and the human psyche.

Directed by Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, the movie tells the story of a pizza delivery man named Hussein, who embarks on a crime spree with a wealthy friend after being denied access to a jewelry store due to his social status.

The film is beautifully shot and captures the gritty urban landscape of Tehran with stunning realism.

The performances are exceptional, particularly that of Hussein Emadeddin, who portrays the lead character with a sense of quiet desperation that is both heartbreaking and unsettling.

What sets Crimson Gold apart from other crime dramas is its nuanced exploration of the social and economic forces that drive people to commit desperate acts.

The film is a powerful commentary on the class divide in Iranian society and the ways in which poverty and inequality can lead to a sense of hopelessness and desperation.

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)

Through the Olive Trees is a fascinating exploration of the complexities of love and the challenges of communication in a rural Iranian village.

Directed by the legendary Abbas Kiarostami, this film takes us on a journey through the lives of a group of villagers as they prepare for a local wedding.

The film’s central focus is on the relationship between a young man named Hossein and a woman named Tahereh, with whom he is hopelessly in love.

As Hossein tries to express his feelings to Tahereh, he faces a series of obstacles, from her disapproving father to her own reluctance to commit.

What makes Through the Olive Trees so compelling is the way it blends fiction and reality, using non-professional actors and real locations to create a sense of authenticity and immediacy.

Kiarostami’s use of long takes and naturalistic dialogue creates a powerful sense of intimacy, drawing us into the characters’ lives and the world they inhabit.

At its core, Through the Olive Trees is a meditation on the power of love and the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity.

It is a beautiful and moving film that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.


5. The Wind Will Carry Us (1999)

“The Wind Will Carry Us” is a beautiful and thought-provoking film by the renowned Iranian director, Abbas Kiarostami.

The movie follows an engineer who travels to a remote village in Iran to document a traditional mourning ritual.

As he waits for the event to take place, he interacts with the local people and becomes immersed their daily lives.

The cinematography is stunning, with breathtaking shots of the rugged landscape and the simple yet elegant village architecture.

The film’s pace is deliberate, allowing the viewer to savor every moment and appreciate the nuances of each interaction.

What struck me most about “The Wind Will Carry Us” was its exploration of the human condition.

The film is a meditation on the fleeting nature of life, the bonds we form with others, and the inevitability of death.

The engineer’s journey serves as a metaphor for our own search for meaning and connection in a world that is often indifferent to our existence.

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) 

Where Is the Friend’s House? is a beautifully crafted film that showcases the simplicity and innocence of childhood.

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami, this Iranian film follows the journey of a schoolboy named Ahmed, who sets out to return his classmate’s notebook after accidentally taking it home.

What begins as a simple task turns into a poignant exploration of compassion and empathy, as Ahmed faces numerous obstacles on his journey to find his friend’s house.

The film’s slow pacing and minimalist approach give the audience time to appreciate the stunning landscapes and observe the characters’ actions and emotions.

Kiarostami’s use of non-professional actors adds to the film’s authenticity, making the characters feel like real people rather than just performers.

The young actor playing Ahmed delivers a moving performance, capturing the confusion and determination of a child trying to do the right thing.

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7. Certified Copy (2010)

Certified Copy is a masterpiece of modern filmmaking that will leave you questioning the very nature of reality and relationships.

Director Abbas Kiarostami weaves a complex narrative that blurs the lines between truth and fiction, as a man and a woman (played brilliantly by William Shimell and Juliette Binoche) explore the themes of art, love, and authenticity during a day trip in Tuscany.

The cinematography is stunning, capturing the beautiful landscapes of Italy with an intimate and poetic touch.

The performances are outstanding, with Binoche delivering a nuanced and emotional portrayal of a woman struggling with her identity and relationships.

The film’s themes are explored through a series of conversations and encounters, each one building on the last to create a rich tapestry of ideas and emotions.

Certified Copy is a thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating film that will challenge your perceptions of reality and the nature of human connection.

Certified Copy [DVD] [2010]
  • Certified Copy (2010) ( Copie conforme ) ( Copia conforme )
  • Certified Copy (2010)
  • Copie conforme
  • Copia conforme
  • Juliette Binoche, Jean-Claude Carrire, William Shimell (Actors)

8. Like Someone in Love (2012) 

Like Someone in Love is a masterful exploration of themes of identity, loneliness, and connection.

Director Abbas Kiarostami weaves a captivating narrative that follows the unlikely relationship between a young escort named Akiko and an elderly professor named Takashi.

The film is set against the backdrop of Tokyo’s bustling streets and colorful nightlife, highlighting the stark contrast between the isolation of the characters and the vibrant energy of the city.

The performances in this film are nothing short of exceptional, with Rin Takanashi delivering a nuanced portrayal of Akiko’s conflicting emotions and Tadashi Okuno bringing a quiet dignity to the role of Takashi.

Kiarostami’s direction is equally impressive, with his use of long takes and minimalist style adding to the film’s understated beauty.

Like Someone in Love is a slow-burning masterpiece that requires patience and attention, but rewards the viewer with a deeply resonant exploration of human connection.

A must-watch for fans of arthouse cinema and anyone who appreciates storytelling at its finest.

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9. And Life Goes On (1992)

And Life Goes On is a heart-wrenching masterpiece that takes the audience on a journey of grief, loss, and acceptance.

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami, this Iranian film is a part of his Koker trilogy and follows a filmmaker’s search for the actors of his previous film after an earthquake has hit the region.

The film’s beauty lies in its simplicity and the way it captures the essence of life in a devastated region.

The director’s use of non-professional actors and documentary-style filmmaking adds to the authenticity of the story.

It’s a film that shows us the power of the human spirit in the face of tragedy.

The cinematography of the film is stunning, capturing the beauty of the Iranian countryside and its people.

The way Kiarostami has used the natural landscapes to depict the aftermath of the earthquake is commendable.

And Life Goes On is a poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the resilience of the human spirit.

It’s a film that will stay with you long after the end credits roll.

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)

Ten is a powerful portrayal of the complexities of modern Iranian society, told through a series of ten conversations between a female driver and her various passengers.

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami, this film is a masterclass in subtle storytelling and nuanced character development.

Shot entirely within the confines of a moving car, Ten is a visually stunning film that captures the bustling streets of Tehran with incredible realism.

The performances are exceptional, with Mania Akbari delivering a standout performance as the driver who must navigate the diverse perspectives and opinions of her passengers.

What sets Ten apart from other films is its ability to tackle complex social issues with such a deft touch.

Through conversations about divorce, sexuality, religion, and politics, Kiarostami presents a multifaceted portrait of a society in flux.

It’s a film that will challenge your preconceptions and leave you with much to ponder long after the credits roll.

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11. Homework (1989)   

Homework is a charming and heartfelt coming-of-age film that the essence of adolescent angst and first love.

The film follows the story of a high school student named Tommy (played by a young and fresh-faced Michael Morgan) who is struggling to balance his schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and budding romance with his neighbor, the beautiful and enigmatic Sheeni Saunders (played by the talented and radiant Winona Ryder).

The film is directed by the acclaimed indie filmmaker, Kevin Hooks, who brings a unique authentic perspective to the story, infusing it with humor, tenderness, and a touch of rebelliousness.

The script, written by Hooks and his co-writer, Terrell Suggs, is sharp and witty, full of clever one-liners, pop culture references, and insightful observations about the challenges of growing up.

What makes Homework stand out from other teen movies of its time is its refusal to follow the typical Hollywood formula of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Instead, it focuses on the simple joys and struggles of everyday life, depicting the ups and downs of young love with honesty and sensitivity.

12. The Traveler (1974)

The Traveler is a haunting and atmospheric film that will leave you spellbound.

The story follows a mysterious stranger, played skillfully by Valerio Mastandrea, who arrives in a small village and begins to stir up trouble.

The villagers are wary of him at first, but soon become entranced by his charisma and charm.

Director Abbas Kiarostami masterfully creates a sense of unease and tension throughout the film, using sparse dialogue and long, lingering shots to create a palpable sense of dread.

The Traveler is a slow burn of a film, but it’s worth sticking with it for the payoff in the final act.

The performances are outstanding, particularly Mastandrea’s enigmatic portrayal of the titular traveler.

The supporting cast is equally impressive, with standout performances from the young boys who befriend the traveler.

The Universal Traveler
  • Hardcover Book
  • Koberg & Bagnall (Author)
  • 09/29/1974 (Publication Date) - Kaufmann inc. (Publisher)

13. The White Balloon (1995)

The White Balloon is a masterpiece of Iranian cinema that captures the essence of childhood innocence and curiosity.

Directed by Jafar Panahi, the film follows the story of a young girl named Razieh who is determined to buy a goldfish for the Iranian New Year.

As she navigates the bustling streets of Tehran, she encounters a series of obstacles that threaten to derail her plans.

The film is a captivating exploration of the human spirit and the universal desire for connection and belonging.

Razieh’s journey is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, as she experiences moments of joy and despair in equal measure.

The performances are superb, particularly that of the young actress who plays Razieh, who brings a naturalistic and authentic energy to the role.

The cinematography is also a standout feature of the film, with Panahi using a handheld camera to capture the raw energy and vibrancy of Tehran’s streets.

The use of natural light and earthy tones creates a warm and inviting atmosphere that draws the audience in and invites them to experience the world through Razieh’s eyes.

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

“Tickets” is a beautifully crafted film that seamlessly weaves together three distinct stories told in three different languages.

Set on a train journey from Austria to Rome, the film explores themes of love, loss, and human connection through the eyes of an eclectic cast of characters.

Each story is unique and engaging, with its own set of complex relationships and emotional stakes.

The performances are top-notch, particularly from the Italian ensemble cast, who bring a raw, authentic energy to their roles.

Director Ermanno Olmi’s masterful use of sound and visual storytelling creates an immersive experience for the audience, making us feel like we are right there on the train with these characters.

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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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