(K. Brent Tomer),
THE first time I met Iranian film-maker Abbas Kiarostami he was captivated by a shadow. We were gathered at the Italian ambassador’s historic residence in the tranquil Farmanieh district of north Tehran. The ambassador loved cinema, and often invited Iranian film-makers to screen their latest works outdoors in his lush garden, à la “Cinema Paradiso”.
The mood was sombre that evening. It was June of 2005 and the hardline mayor of Tehran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had just been elected president. The artists assembled that night worried Iran would regress to the revolutionary fervour of the 1980s, and their limited freedoms would be further curtailed. Those fears would soon be vindicated.
Politics dominated the dinner table discussions. Painters and writers talked about going into temporary exile to Paris and Montreal. Art gallerists talked about setting up shop in Dubai.
Kiarostami, the guest of honour who was there to screen his latest film, “Tickets”, ignored the political chatter. His attention had been focused on a tall thin glass of water on the dinner table before him. He would pick up the glass, move…Continue reading