Kiarostami: Stage and Screen

Jun 8, 2009

The word “opera” doesn’t immediately come to mind when one thinks of Abbas Kiarostami. Such a grandly theatrical form would seem antithetical to the more minimalist film sensibility of the Iranian director (Taste of Cherry). But thanks to a surprise commission by the Aix-en-Provence music festival last year, he took on a stage production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte. Now, on the occasion of his Così’s London premiere, Financial Times columnist Peter Aspden speaks with Kiarostami for a wide-ranging profile, in which the taciturn filmmaker discusses art, philosophy, and why this opera was rewarding for him—“Its themes are universal, geographically and historically. It is an eighteenth-century text that still applies”—as well as the recent “Kafkaesque” visa application process that has kept him out of the UK, and thus from overseeing the London staging of Così.

Of course, Kiarostami has hardly left cinema for the stage: in Aspden’s piece, he also talks about his latest film, Shirin, premiering in the UK at next month’s Edinburgh Film Festival. With its focus exclusively on the faces of women in a theater watching a traditional Iranian fable, it sounds as challenging and daring as we would expect from the great Kiarostami.

And Kiarostami has announced the start of production on a new film, Certified Copy, to star Juliette Binoche and William Shimell, who is—surprise, surprise!—a renowned English baritone! Read more about the film, which is to be shot in Tuscany, here.