Transcending cinema : Kiarostami’s approach to filmmaking

Ghorbankarimi, Maryam (2018) Transcending cinema : Kiarostami’s approach to filmmaking. Iran Namag, 2 (4). IV-XVIII.

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As an artist, photographer and filmmaker, late Abbas Kiarostami continuously experimented with medium, style and storytelling throughout his long and fruitful career. I would like to argue that his filmmaking could be characterised by the osmosis of formalist and realist elements and the move beyond the restrictions of genre. Formalism emphasizes film’s potential as an expressive medium, and for formalists, film should not merely record and imitate what is before the camera, but using various techniques, it should also produce its own meanings at the same time. Realism, by contrast, emphasizes film as a medium that reproduces what is before the camera, and although film techniques are also important in realist films, they are not employed to produce meaning within the film. Realist film should speak for itself and allow the audience to draw their own conclusions. Bazin believed that realist cinema was a more democratic form of film since it did not manipulate the audience, and similarly, Kiarostami believed that the audience should not be captives of the filmmaker but be active participants. However, in his filmmaking he walked the fine line between formalism and realism. Kiarostami’s juxtaposition of realism and formalism is evident in both, his framing and his editing; be it in one of his aesthetically beautiful films such as “Where is the friend’s house?”, or in his use of fixed digital camera angles in “Ten”. This paper will look at how Kiarostami managed to work with elements of realist and formalist filmmaking at the same time to make films or “to get close to his subjects” to use his own words.

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Iran Namag
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© 2017 Iran Namag. This work has been made available online in accordance with the publisher’s policies. This is the final published version of the work, which was originally published at
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25 Sep 2018 09:40
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15 Jul 2024 18:19