This was presented by resident artist, Six Pillars producer Fari Bradley who has reviewed cinema on BBC UK national radio film programmes for some years now. Next month Sharjah Art Foundation are holding a free film screening of a film suggested by Fari at the Mirage City outdoor Cinema in the Sharjah Art Foundation buildings.
The film was selected as it marks an important juncture in the development of the canon of Iranian Cinema, a genre that is recognised the world over today. Where is The Friend’s House? or Where is My Friend’s Home? - Khane-ye doust kodj’ast? – was made by Abbas Kiarostami in 1987 Iran, inspired by a poem which itself was instrumental in a ground-breaking movement, but in poetry.
Kiarostami’s film was one of the second wave of neo-realist films, the first was in the 1960s, that laid the foundation for what we know Iranian cinema to be today. Kiarostami himself is an artist (photographer), poet (haikus) and film maker whose work spans right back to the days of the Shiraz-Persepolis Arts Festivals which for a decade brought avant garde and classical performers in theatre, dance, improvisation, art and film to Shiraz each year. It was an historic and important melting pot of ideas for the world’s greatest talent of the time to meet and exchange philosophies and techniques and inspiration.
The poems of Sepeheri (1928–1980) who was also one of Iran’s most foremost painters, are highly evocative and visual, as well as generally being full of compassion, with themes around human values and nature which he returned to again and again. Here, the opening lines ring with the opening of Dante’s Inferno, in which the writer places himself in a dark forest in which the path is lost. The film too descends into a maze of obscure and confusing passages, and zig zagging paths over hills and mountains for which Kiarostami is known.
If you haven’t seen it yet, visit Sharjah Art Foundation’s outdoor cinema this November, as the film is in the top ten of BFI (British Film Institute) list of the 50 films you should see before you are 14 years old. The film was commissioned by the children’s educative fund in Iran and is essentially a depiction of how children navigating, with their unworn and heroic tenacity and their very literal understanding, the delineated geometries of adult society. A society in which, as the first lines of the film illustrate, authority can tell you stand up, just so that they can tell you to sit down and berate you having sat down of your own free will in the first place. Both Kiarostami and his inspiration, Sepehri were contemporaries of another of Iran’s most famous poets, Forrough Forroukhzad, whose film The House is Black? Also featuring children heavily this too was commissioned as an educative film, and was discussed in Tashkeel’s film programme on Sound Art here in September.
Saturday, November 1st, 8.30pm FREE with popcorn and drinks, Behind Al Zahra Mosque. Fari will introduce the film for an idea of context within the development of Iranian cinema. Here’s Fari speaking on BBC Radio4 about another Kiarostami classic, set in Japan, Like Someone in Love.
In the false dawn that is twilight
A traveling rider enquired of a passer-by
Where is my friend’s house?”
The skies paused
The passerby held a streaming branch of light, and touched it from his lips to the dark sands at their feet
And pointed to a poplar tree saying:
“Near that tree
There is a path to a garden greener than even God had dreamed of,
Go down it for as long as the blue wings of honesty can reach.Go on to the end,
Which emerges, Just beyond maturityAnd then turn towards the unquenchable fountain of earthly illusionsWhere a flower of loneliness grows.Take two steps towards the flower, there A terror as transparent as water will seize youIn the fluid closeness of that space, you will hear a rustling,
And see a child who has climbed high up a pine tree,
To lift a young bird out of a nest made of light.You call out and ask him:
“Where is the friend’s house?””