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Abbas Kiarostami, RIP

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The legendary Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has died of stomach cancer. Truth be told, of the internationally known giants of Iranian cinema I probably prefer the output of Mohsen Mahkmalbaf and Jafar Panahi to Kiarostami, although it’s hard to imagine Makhmalbaf and Panahi without Kiarostami. He’s best known for blurring the boundaries between fiction and documentary. Perhaps the most fascinating and intriguing (and largely successful) experiment of his career in that vein was Close-Up, which retells a historic event with the actual participants acting as themselves–a disturbed Makhmalbaf fan impersonates the famous director, conning his way into a family on that pretense, and is eventually discovered and arrested. It works just magnificently as a character study of the impersonator, but also of the family and other minor characters; his minimalism and naturalism are perfect for the subject. The Wind Will Carry Us is probably my favorite, although I’m also quite partial to Homework, Taste of Cherry, and Where is the Friends Home? I didn’t care for ABC Africa, and I haven’t seen much of his output in the last 15 years, something I’ll now seek to rectify.

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