‘Kiarostami transcended medium, technology’: Filmmaker Neelan45e;

Award-winning documentarian delivered talk on late Iranian auteur’s vision and method 


Kochi, Oct 1: While digital innovations in cinema have delivered awe-inspiring visual experiences and added to its popularity, award winning documentarian and film critic Neelan said the flawless filmmaking of auteurs like Abbas Kiarostami transcended the limitations of the medium.

Delivering a talk on the iconic Iranian director’s Taste of Cherry, on the sidelines of the ongoing SiGNS Short and Documentary Film Festival today, Neelan critically examined themes and techniques in the 1997 minimalist classic to underscore the primacy of storytelling.

The lecture – as also the 2013 Farsi-English production Abbas Kiarostami: A Report by Bahman Maghsoudlou – was presented to cinephiles at Ernakulam Town Hall today as homage to the late director, who passed away in July.

“Despite working with several constraints including limited technology and blunt censorship, Kiarostami remained within the laws of the land to make movies without being deemed a rebel by the authorities,” Neelan said.

The symbolism in Taste of Cherry – about a driver on the hunt for passengers to kill him – is found in its profound visual metaphors and contemplative silences, broken only by the spare dialogue and ambient sounds.

During the talk, Neelan highlighted major sequences of the movie to buttress a point about the importance of consciously-used sounds as a method to communicate the message. 

“Sounds were given as equal importance as images in Kiarostomi’s movies. In Taste of Cherry, he used the sounds even to detach the viewer from getting too empathetic to the protagonist,” he said.

Kiarostami famously toed a thin line between fiction and reality in his filmmaking. While some of his footage was shot in the style of a documentary, others were semi-scripted or directed scenes.

The line between fact and fiction has been further blurred by digitisation, Neelan said.

“Digitisation has made cinema more democratic and cost-effective. The technical part to making movies is more user-friendly than earlier,” he said. “However, we have lost the visual experience as people have started watching movies even in their mobile phones.” 

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