Artists, officials mourn loss of auteur Abbas Kiarostam

July 8, 2016

TEHRAN – Tributes have poured in from artists and officials in Iran and around the world for the great loss of Abbas Kiarostami, the auteur who achieved global recognition for Iranian cinema after the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Twitter that the director’s “different and profound attitude towards life and his invitation to peace and friendship” would be a “lasting achievement.” 

Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif said Kiarostami’s death was a loss for international cinema.

Kiarostami passed away in Paris on Monday at the age of 76. He was suffering from a severe gastrointestinal disease. However, some overseas news agencies announced that he died of gastrointestinal cancer.

Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the chairman of the Expediency Council, also expressed his condolences, calling Kiarostami an artist who made Iranian cinema an international art. 

“He sent the message of peace and friendship to the world through his cinema,” Rafsanjani said in his message.

In a statement on Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande praised the director for forging “close artistic ties and deep friendships” with France.

Hollywood legend Martin Scorsese praised his “extraordinary body of work”. “He was a true gentleman, and, truly, one of our great artists,” Scorsese told The Hollywood Reporter.

Persian mystic and poet Jalal al-Din Rumi’s 22nd niece Esin Celebi also expressed her condolences over the demise of Kiarostami in a separate message.

“We are witnessing the loss of one of the authors of the contemporary world cinema and are mourning for his loss,” Celebi, who is the deputy director of Turkey’s International Mevlana Foundation, said in her message.

In addition, other Iranian artists and celebrities expressed condolences. They include cartoonist Kambiz Derambakhsh, and filmmakers Mohammad-Mehdi Asgarpur and Ali Rafiei.

“What he added to the culture and this land’s assets cannot be compared with that by other artists over recent decades,” Asgarpur wrote in his message.

“He made and offered his best works during the years when many others were striving to present a false image of Iran to the world,” his message added.

“Cut….., the life of Abbas Kiarostami was cut just when he had thousands of thoughts and ideas and images to present,” Derambakhsh said in his message. Kiarostami was not only a great filmmaker, he was a great discoverer. He left behind all the classic formulas of world cinema and proved to the world that one can define cinema in another way, and he was successful.”

Also on Thursday, filmmakers Kiumars Purahmad, Rasul Sadr-Ameli and Reza Mirkarimi attended a ceremony held at Iran’s Cultural Center in Paris in honor of the master.

Iranian artists and citizens in Paris also paid tribute to Kiarostami, leaving photos of the filmmaker embellished with flowers and candles on the Seine River, to symbolically bid him farewell.

Kiarostami wrote and directed dozens of films. His 1997 film “Taste of Cherry” won the prestigious Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. 

Artist and fans will gather on Sunday at the Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (IIDCYA), where Kiarostami made his early films, to bid farewell to the master. 

His body will be buried in Lavasan, a resort town about 40 kilometers northeast of Tehran, based on his own will, after it is flown back to Tehran from Paris.

RM/YAW
 

PHOTO: Kiarostami (R) receives a lifetime achievement award from U.S. director Martin Scorsese at the 5th Marrakesh International Film Festival, which was held in Morocco in 2005. 

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