Sog., Scen., M.: Abbas Kiarostami. F.: Firuz Malakzade. Prod.: Ali Asghar Mirzai. DCP. D.: 11’.
Abbas Kiarostami was obsessed with roads. In his film Roads of Kiarostami, he admits that he had taken hundreds of photographs of roads without even realising the common theme. This recurrence can certainly stem from the importance of the road as a leitmotif in Persian poetry, his first source of inspiration. But even more than roads, world audiences associate Kiarostami’s films with cars. Many of the feature films that brought him international recognition do take place in a car. The three short films presented in this edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato all feature cars and traffic, although they were shot while Kiarostami worked for the Kanoon, the Institute for the intellectual developement of children and young adults, where he was supposed to make educational films. They were made during the years of the Iranian Revolution, when almost no film could be shot. In 1978, the young director escaped from the tensions of the city with only one cameraman, one soundman, a non-actor and a tyre (long before Quentin Dupieux). Together, they shoot Rah-e hall-e yek, an extraordinary silent odyssey, only through the grace of the frames, the light, the editing and the score. In 1981, Be tartib ya bedun-e tartib, based on the either/or principle, a trope frequently explored in his cinema, first appears to be a simple demonstration of the virtue of order, in a school as in the city traffic. But soon, the viewer realises there is a film in the film and taking control over the traffic is just as difficult as trying to master reality in order to make a film. Two years later, in 1983, after witnessing the scene in the streets of Tehran, Kiarostami decides to use some outdated 16 mm negatives to film the procession of countless motorists passing in front of one single man: an officer assigned to block the road, sacrificed to their constant pressure. Hamshahri, among his least well-known films, is a fascinating document of power struggle in post-revolutionary Iran. In these early unique road movies, Abbas Kiarostami proved his ability to make cinema with almost no means, to transform the apparent purpose of the project by adjusting to reality and constantly celebrating movement as the quintessence of life and cinema.