ABBAS KIAROSTAMI SHORTS
BREAD AND ALLEY / 1970 / 10 MIN — “The mother of all my films,” according to Abbas Kiarostami, starts out as a breezily observed anecdote about a boy wending his way home through … Read more...
BREAD AND ALLEY / 1970 / 10 MIN — “The mother of all my films,” according to Abbas Kiarostami, starts out as a breezily observed anecdote about a boy wending his way home through Tehran alleys carrying a loaf of bread. Variations on both the boy and the old man he sees and begins to follow will factor into future Kiarostami films, as will the use of “dead time,” the journey structure, and the poetic articulation of space. The final scene, involving a dog and a door, ends things on a note of wry ambiguity.
BREAKTIME / 1972 / 11 MIN — Disciplined at school for breaking a window, a boy joins throngs of his schoolmates as they make a cacophonous exit onto Tehran’s streets. He then briefly joins an impromptu soccer game but disrupts it by stealing the ball and running away, and ends up drifting aimlessly along a busy highway. Free of dialogue but using unsynchronized sound throughout, this moody film shows Kiarostami expanding his visual vocabulary with zooms and crane and helicopter shots.
SO CAN I / 1975 / 4 MIN — The first of Kiarostami’s films made for, rather than just about, children was an experiment in combining live action and animation, done in collaboration with animator Nafiseh Riahi. As two schoolboys watch animated views of animals’ actions— kangaroos jumping, fish swimming, etc.—one boy (played by Riahi’s son Kamal) says, “I can, too,” and imitates the actions. The music is sprightly, the mood fun. The second boy is Kiarostami’s son Ahmad.
TWO SOLUTIONS FOR ONE PROBLEM / 1975 / 4 MIN — This simple moral tale seems to prefigure Where Is the Friend’s House? Two young schoolboys, Dara and Nader, are friends until Dara returns Nader’s notebook torn and Nader retaliates in kind, setting off an escalating battle that leads to physical injury. In the second solution, Dara realizes his offense and repairs the notebook, preserving the peace and the friendship. The film is shot mostly in close-ups, with a narrator drolly chronicling the action.
THE COLORS / 1976 / 15 MIN — Ostensibly also a film for children, this picture-book essay about the range of hues that brighten our world has the air of a delightfully playful formalistic exercise. As a narrator runs though the colors one by one, Kiarostami shows us where each appears in nature and human life (which occasions some great views of prerevolutionary consumer culture in Iran). Of course, a little boy is featured—in one memorable sequence, he fantasizes about being a race-car driver.
HOW TO MAKE USE OF LEISURE TIME / 1977 / 7 MIN — Evidently the first installment in a series that didn’t continue, this instructional film shows idle twelve- and sixteen-yearold brothers learning how to improve their surroundings by painting an old door. With the narrator giving step-by-step instructions, the boys go through the processes of sanding, applying primer, and mixing different types of paint. Whatever its educational value, the film’s quiet enthusiasm for its subject also reflects Kiarostami’s own interest in woodworking.
TRIBUTE TO TEACHERS / 1977 / 20 MIN — An assignment from the Ministry of Education, this documentary from the last years of the Pahlavi dynasty includes interviews with officials who predictably praise teaching as a sacred, noble, and honorable profession. The teachers who are also interviewed are less starry-eyed; one speaks of ungrateful students and the job’s poor pay. The contrasting views express Kiarostami’s interest in education while registering some of his reservations about how it is practiced.
SOLUTION / 1978 / 11 MIN — The rare Kanoon film that doesn’t involve children, this unusual road movie was made during the revolution and afforded Kiarostami what may have been a welcome escape from the capital. Shot amid spectacular mountain scenery north of Tehran, it shows a young man on a roadside with a tire, trying to get a ride. After several minutes of failure, he simply takes the tire and rolls it down the mountain, a lyrical visual journey that’s accompanied by a triumphal score.
TOOTHACHE / 1980 / 26 MIN — Though much of this film is a straightforward lecture about dental hygiene delivered by a dentist facing the camera, it still manages to be persuasively Kiarostami-esque in its description of young Mohammad-Reza’s life at home and school before he falls prey to tooth woes. (Kiarostami found the boy having a tooth removed, then filmed the earlier parts of the story later.) That some audiences find the film hilarious testifies to the humor that can accompany great discomfort.
ORDERLY OR DISORDERLY / 1981 / 15 MIN — This film’s first shot shows students descending a staircase in calm, orderly fashion, then its second details the same action as a chaotic rush. Separated by slates and Kiarostami’s voice intoning, “Sound, camera,” subsequent sequences describe the same dichotomous behavior in a schoolyard, on a school bus, and in the haphazard traffic of Tehran. Kiarostami described this as “a truly educational film,” but it plays more like a quirky philosophic aside.
THE CHORUS / 1982 / 17 MIN — An old man strolls through the noisy streets of Rasht, and when his hearing aid is knocked out of his ear, the film’s sound goes off, too, mimicking the silence that envelops him. At home, the same thing happens when he takes the device out, and Kiarostami intercuts his silent actions with the clamor of schoolgirls who try to get his attention from outside. Another Kiarostami meditation on the contrasts of silence and sound, age and youth, solitude and solidarity.