Even as we’re still processing the death of Michael Cimino, 2016 has taken another great filmmaker from us: Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami has passed away at the age of 76.
“Kiarostami represents the highest level of artistry in the cinema,” Martin Scorsese once said of the director, and few would disagree. Kiarostami was one of the pioneers and leading figures of the Iranian New Wave of cinema, with his career continuing to flourish even after the Islamic Revolution of the late ’70s which saw many artists and intellectuals flee the country. Regardless, Kiarostami created a distinct, modern body of work that was celebrated around the world. The filmmaker was a favorite of the Cannes Film Festival where “Taste Of Cherry” won the Palme d’Or in 1997 and “Certified Copy” took home the Award Of The Youth in 2010. His Koker trilogy — “Where Is The Friend’s Home?,” “Life And Nothing More,” “Through The Olive Trees” — was also highly treasured and widely celebrated. And even more, Kiarostami was held in high regard by his peers with directors such as Akira Kurosawa, Jean-Luc Godard and Michael Haneke singing his praises.
“He wasn’t just a film-maker, he was a modern mystic, both in his cinema and his private life,” Iranian director Asghar Farhadi told The Guardian. “He definitely paved ways for others and influenced a great deal of people. It’s not just the world of cinema that has lost a great man; the whole world has lost someone really great.”
Kiarostami had been battling cancer, but nevertheless, it was just a few months ago that it was announced his next picture would be “24 Frames.” And while that film will likely remain uncompleted, and though world cinema has lost a titan, Kiarostami has left behind an incredible body of work that will inspire generations to come.