Tributes pour in for Kiarostami, giant of Iran cinema

Kiarostami, who won the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 for “Taste of Cherry,” emerged from the Iranian New Wave of the late 1960s to become one of the world’s most revered directors.

Hollywood legend Martin Scorsese praised his “extraordinary body of work.”

“He was a true gentleman, and, truly, one of our great artists,” Scorsese told The Hollywood Reporter.

Hundreds of people flocked to the beautiful grounds of Tehran’s Museum of Cinema late Tuesday to remember him.

Among them was Asghar Farhadi, perhaps Iran’s most successful director.

“He wasn’t only important for Iranian cinema — already for a long time he’s been an avant gardist for the whole of world cinema. He dared to do the things that many did not dare to do,” Farhadi told AFP.

Kiarostami’s poetic parables of ordinary lives won him international acclaim, with French director Jean-Luc Godard once declaring that “film begins with D.W. Griffith and ends with Abbas Kiarostami.

Actor Homayoun Ershadi, who starred in “Taste of Cherry,” said on Tuesday: “I still haven’t found the words to express my sense of loss.”

News of Kiarostami’s death broke late Monday, with Iranian media reporting he died from a blood clot in the brain after months of treatment for intestinal problems.

‘Everlasting achievement’

The ISNA news agency said he had returned to Iran from his home in Paris to undergo several operations between February and April, before traveling back to France last week for further treatment.

“Kiarostami’s different and deep outlook on life, and his invitation to peace and friendship, will be an everlasting achievement,” tweeted President Hassan Rouhani.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif added: “Iran has lost a towering figure in international cinema.”

Just last week, Kiarostami had been invited to join the Academy in Hollywood as part of efforts to increase the diversity of its Oscar judges.

“He wasn’t just a filmmaker. He was a modern mystic, both in his cinema and his private life,” Asghar Farhadi, another of Iran’s renowned directors, told Britain’s The Guardian.

Iranian cinemas were to pause Tuesday screenings for a prayer in Kiarostami’s memory, ISNA reported.

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