There is the time of the generic you created at the time of the new wave of Iranian cinema, like Qeysar (Masud Kimiai, 1969). Did you intend to go to the making of a film?
Abbas Kiarostami: not. No, not at all. At this time, I was painting and graphic design for advertising. The creation of generic designs was popular and, above all, the work of Saul Bass. Titles he has designed have influenced many artists and filmmakers of the time. I had already gained some experience with the 35 mm on advertising projects that I had done previously. From the perspective of a graphic artist, it was a nice challenge. Qeysar is the second film I worked on and I think well have worked on four or five other titles between it and my debut in filmmaking. Therefore, I could say that the design of title was a bridge between graphic art and cinema. Today, I prefer that other design generics of my films, since I no longer have the patience and I am satisfied that my approach to design is completely outdated.
Can you say that your first film, the bread and the street (1970), summarises your approach to technical and aesthetic of the film? And the scenario of this short film, which was written by your brother, to what extent has contributed to the structure of the film?
How do you believe that your own narrative style, your film look and your sense of rhythm were formed and evolved?
A.K.: I really don't know. This is the kind of issue that requires a long reflection and I do not think that we have enough time to it. But I think that it is rooted in fear: fear of incompetence when you are on the shelf with the camera and the entire technical team; When you imagine your technical knowledge and skill. In such moments of doubt and fear, you you put yourself in the challenge and makes you grow up and mature. After having your film, you can sit, watch it as a spectator and assess your ability to express your story or the content of your movie. It takes lot of time for the gaze of someone becoming a style proper. I do not think that anybody can plan and deliberate style before experienced an artistic medium. I have never been a fan of commercial cinema, with the fast pace and excitement that are unique. My life is not a very rapid pace, I saw slowly and my movies reflect the pulse and the pace of my life.
When, in production or post-production of movies, finalize you the use of the sound elements such as music? Is - it during the editing or is it predetermined?
A.K.: I never think to the sound during editing. There may be some minor changes during the editing, but the sound is finished before this step.
Even the music?
A.K.: Music, absolutely. I've never had musical band in my films. If I use music, it is only at the end and, in this case, I already know what instrument should be used. If I choose a room or the command to a musician, I must be in full control. I have never dared give my film to a musician and tell him to compose a soundtrack for him. It is more dangerous than marry by correspondence.
When you eliminate any sound, as a fly or a bird hovering over your microphone, how can you let someone else impose any soundtrack to your movie?
One of the characteristic of your cinema - since your early films as the passenger (1974) until your most recent - is the use of non-diegetic sounds and off-field, particularly for the dialogues. I believe that, in a film as the wind will carry us (1999), we are witnessing an amazing use of this technique.
Is it possible to go even further in the use of this kind of ways to wear your story?
A.K.: of course, certainly I intend to do so. I think that when we do not see things in detail, their impact is greatest. The impression lasts longer. It also gives viewers an opportunity to use their imagination: heard only the sound they can see the image in their mind without that it really is on the screen. It is really an invitation for viewers to participate in the creation of a work. I envy those who read novels because they have much more freedom of imagination as a hearing of cinema. If a film could be structured as a book, it would be ideal. For example, the last four lines of a chapter may end up on a page that the rest is white, as the next page. Then the new chapter begins with a short title. This type of structure can give the opportunity for a pause and reflect. I am always surprised to hear people say: "I read a book and I could not put it before completed it." How can we regard it as a quality for a work of art? It is the same superficial excitement imposed by commercial film to its audience. Sometimes while I ride my films, I like insert black initiation instead of an image (such as the white of the novel page) and say: "that's enough now! The film should be able to give such freedom, both the artist and at the hearing.
I think that you do not believe in a film that would be a message in particular.
A.K.: exactly. Film to spread messages is not the place. An artist designs and creates a measurable hoping to materialize a thought, concept or emotion through a medium. Great poets such as Rumi and Hazif Persians credibility is very precisely that they have composed so that whatever the time, place and circumstances where one reads their poems - regardless if you interpret or if you read them as of simple literature-, they are fresh and of meaning. This is also true in the case of some of our contemporary poets such as Forough Farokhzad. When we are dealing with an abstract painting, we have the right to interpret it the way we want. It is still the case for music, a medium that we do not necessarily, but we can feel and appreciate. But in the case of film, most people expect to receive a clear and clear message while a movie may be experienced as a poem or a painting or a piece of music.
As the author, to what extent are you open to different interpretations of your work? For example, one could interpret the sequence of the taste of Cherry (1997) with a certain colour "homoérotique". What do you think?
A.K.: I know of people who have read the film with a gay subtext. I believe that anyone has the right to read my film as it sees fit or likes to understand. I remember that after where is my friend's House?, someone said to a friend that this film was very political. When my friend asked him why, he replied: for the name of the characters, Mohamad Reza Nematzadeh. He added: because his name is one of the last King of Iran (Mohamad Reza Pahlavi) and his surname is Nematzadeh - that can be translated as gift of God. Later, I learned that the man was working on national television of Iran and that he was dismissed after the revolution. A film must be multidimensional, with multiple layers, so that any viewer with any background can relate to. Who has the right to say no and depriving them of their understanding of the film?
Today, when you look at your first films, how are you? For example, the passenger, your first feature film.
A.K.: Some years ago, after more than twenty years, I have reviewed the passenger in a festival at the Japan. I found that this film was still fresh and that the audience could still make sense. However, my films are not perfect, they still have a problem. And I must say that this is not the case only for my first films. But these defects are inevitable, they do not mean that you do not know your work. Specially when you make in their daily environment, you cannot have absolute control over everything. These imperfections can be viewed as defects or the virtues of a film. If I wanted to redo the passenger today, I might correct some moments, but I am sure that I in lose of excellent also. These films were made in the past and they belong at this time.
To what extent the art, philosophy, sociology and political theory are they involved in your creative process?
A.K.: Regardless of what the theory gave me, she had to do so long before that I hold myself behind a camera. It already digested what you read or learned before even to start an art project. If one really understands a theory, concept or philosophy, they will appear subtly in our work. A rapid and emotional reaction against social or political event reduced the film at the level of a newspaper with an expiration date. When these same complex events turn or end, the film becomes without value no. If the filmmaker creates a film with raw ideas, not digested in mind, the film becomes a lively slogan. I believe that the true art must be eternal. In a country like the Iran, where social and political issues change constantly, the artist must see beyond these social outcomes; It must concentrate on more fundamental realities as humanity itself, which is more universal.
Thus, an artist living unconsciously ahead of its time?
A.K.: Should so be it. It is the work of journalists gather information until 4 a.m. for printing the following day in the newspaper. For an artist, this information must have been collected for months if not years, before.