fbpx Abbas Kiarostami | Gene Siskel Film Center

Abbas Kiarostami

September 6 - October 30

“Cinema is truth twenty-four frames per second.”—Jean-Luc Godard

“In cinema, by fabricating lies we may never reach the fundamental truth, but we will always be on our way to it. We can never get close to the truth except through lying.”—Abbas Kiarostami

"Film begins with D.W. Griffith and ends with Abbas Kiarostami.”—Jean-Luc Godard

From September 6 through October 30, the Gene Siskel Film Center presents the retrospective Abbas Kiarostami, a series that encompasses a total of thirty-two films, the largest selection of the work of this major Iranian director yet available in North America. Most titles are presented in new digital restorations, thanks to the Criterion Collection and mk2. Included are twenty-two full-length and short features, and ten shorts. Early short features including EXPERIENCE, FELLOW CITIZEN, and FIRST GRADERS are exceedingly rare, while a number of the shorts were only recently rediscovered and restored. The October portion of the series is predominantly devoted to later work.

In a filmmaking career that extended from THE BREAD AND ALLEY, his first short in 1970, to 24 FRAMES, his final feature, completed and released following his untimely 2016 death, Kiarostami’s career blazed with the creativity of a true innovator. Born in Tehran in 1940, and exhibiting an early interest in the arts, he earned a degree in painting at Tehran University. Throughout his life, he was to apply his wide-ranging talents to poetry, photography, installation art, and design, all of which fed into his career in cinema.

Using the most minimal of narrative methods and many non-professional actors, Kiarostami frequently lays bare the artifice behind the fiction, creating films within films in complex and layered stories that grapple with issues at the very heart of human existence. His protagonists are often motivated by quests, as in WHERE IS THE FRIEND’S HOUSE?, or engaged in journeys, as in AND LIFE GOES ON, with the journey itself becoming the end goal. Kiarostami’s own quest was for an emotional and societal truth that could not be attained through realism alone. Is he a realist or a master illusionist? His modus operandi is to tease a greater and more accurate reality from the facts through fiction.

The Palme d’Or that Kiarostami was awarded for A TASTE OF CHERRY at Cannes in 1997 confirmed what scores of critics had already discerned: that this was a master of his medium working at the height of his powers. As he moved increasingly in an international sphere, gaining a wide international audience, Kiarostami nurtured the Persian roots of his work while delving ever deeper into experimentation with self-reflexive narrative, illusion, and cinematic sleight of hand, never losing his compassionate eye on the vagaries of life.

Women gained a new ascendency in his work, as did themes of emotional resonance, in films including TEN, CERTIFIED COPY, and LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE. In these films, relationships are most often based on illusion, and communications between men and women are governed by slippery trade-offs, compromises, and half-truths. By contrast, SHIRIN is a stirring portrait of womankind through the faces of 113 actresses.

In his later work, Kiarostami’s methods evolved with changing technology, and he brought an artist’s boundless curiosity to the transition to digital filmmaking. In digital technology he found the perfect tools for altering images to his idealized vision, in films including FIVE (FOR OZU) and 24 FRAMES. Manipulating, altering, and creating seamless composite imagery, he found the means to arrive at truth through illusion.

For their assistance in preparing this retrospective, the Gene Siskel Film Center thanks: Brian Belovaric, Janus Films; Justin Di Pietro, IFC Films; Jonathan Rosenbaum; Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa; and Ehsan Khoshbakht.

—Barbara Scharres

SATURDAY DOUBLE-BILL DISCOUNT! Buy a ticket at our regular prices for the first Kiarostami film on any Saturday in August, September, or October, and get a ticket for the second Kiarostami film that day at the discounted rate with proof of your original purchase: General Admission $7; Students $5; Members $4. (This discount rate applies to the second feature only. Discount available in person at the box office only.)


The Traveler


1974, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran, 74 min. (Total show: 91 min.)
With Hasan Darabi


  • Fri, Sep 6th 6:00pm
  • Mon, Sep 9th 6:00pm

Where is the Friend's House?

Khaneh-ye dust kojast?

1987, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran, 84 min.
With Babak Ahmadpour, Ahmad Ahmadpour


  • Sat, Sep 7th 3:15pm
  • Thu, Sep 12th 6:00pm


Tajrobeh / aka The Experience

1973, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran, 57 min. (Total show: 89 min.)
With Hassan Yar-Mohamadi


  • Sat, Sep 7th 5:00pm


Mashgh-e Shab

1989, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran, 78 min.


  • Fri, Sep 13th 6:00pm
  • Mon, Sep 16th 6:00pm


Namay-e nazdik

1990, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran, 98 min.
With Hossain Sabzian, Mohsen Makhmalbaf


  • Sat, Sep 14th 3:00pm
  • Wed, Sep 18th 6:00pm

First Graders


1984, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran, 84 min.


  • Sat, Sep 14th 5:00pm

And Life Goes On

...Va zendengi edameh darad

1992, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran, 96 min.
With Farhad Kheradmand, Puya Pievar


  • Sat, Sep 21st 3:00pm
  • Mon, Sep 23rd 6:00pm

Fellow Citizen


1983, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran, 52 min. (Total show: 88 min.)


  • Sat, Sep 21st 5:00pm

Through the Olive Trees

Zir-e derakhtan-e zeytun

1994, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran, 104 min.
With Mohammad-Ali Keshavarz, Hossein Rezai, Tahareh Ladanian


  • Sat, Sep 28th 3:00pm
  • Wed, Oct 2nd 6:00pm

A Wedding Suit

Lebasi Baray-e Arusi / aka A Suit for the Wedding

1976, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran, 60 min. (Total show: 84 min.)
With Mohammad Fazih Motaleb, Massud Zand Begleh, Mehdi Nekui


  • Sat, Sep 28th 5:00pm