Title: 76 Minutes and 15 Seconds with Kiarostami
Director: Seyfolah Samadian
My first screening in Venice ‘73, a touching tribute to the recently deceased Iranian film grandmaster Mr. Abbas Kiarostami with the presence of his son Ahmed Kiarostami and Seyfolah Samadian, Kiarostami’s long-time assistant, the director of the main documentary feature here, a fresh-out-of-the-oven project (which means it is impossible to find any credits on the internet thus far), the title reflects its exact running time and also reverently corresponds to Abbas’ life span on earth, 76 years and 15 days.
Due to a deeply mortifying fact that I have only watched one of his film so far, CERTIFIED COPY (2010), it is impossible for me to get all the references from Samadian’s picture, which encompasses many a film-related vignettes of Kiarostami during their 25-year long friendship and collaboration, whether it is his travelogue in rural areas, using camera to faithfully record scenes that amaze him, so often in the car, behind the windshield, one time, driving during a heavy rain with no windshield wiper on, where he professes that photography literally transcends paintings at that stage; or on the airplane reading and taking notes from his favorite poetry (fail to get the name, my bad!); or amusingly trying different sound effects, conceiving ideas and finding props for his projects (including his installation TREE WITH LEAVES); or during the field work (co-directing with veteran Iranian director Masud Kimiai while Jafar Panahi is recording closely behind the camera) where soldiers’ march when it is raining cats and dogs; or a unannounced visit to a young actress (Ladanian) whom he has cast in THROUGH THE OLIVE TREE (1994), and riding with a jovial Juliette Binoche (the only major international star he had ever worked with) and trying to overcome their language barrier with joviality. Samadian’s approach is simultaneously intimate and observant, with no talking-heads and interviewees, its family-video directness rightfully reflects the fidelity of Kiarostami’s personality in privacy, shy, bonhomous and reflective, fittingly in line with his works.
The close ambles to its ending with the scenes where Mr. Kiarostami revisits the olive glove in THROUGH THE OLIVE TREE, conceivably his most well-known memento to remember his canon for, poetic, human, and brimming with compassion and profoundness.
The documentary is preceded by a disarming short TAKE ME HOME by Mr. Kiarostami, a football’s bouncy descending in a rural Italy village aided solely by gravity, it is monotonous but not uninspiring, a mischievously devised amuse-gueule; and we are also granted a privilege to get a glimpse of 24 FRAMES, Kiarostami’s unfinished project, a one-frame only, 5-minute sleight-of-hand of silhouette and ornitho-guidance basked under a soprano’s pitch-perfect rendition of AVE MARIA, we miss you so much, Maestro Kiarostami.