One of the world’s great filmmakers, Abbas Kiarostami, died earlier this month. Among several superb directors in the Iranian new wave, Kiarostami shone strongest and brightest. He delivered films that sidestepped censorship, of awing subtlety and enigmatic qualities, which highlighted how universal his film language was. So what better way to honour him than by looking at his last short film – a fitting microcosm of his exceptional directorial craft.
Commissioned for the 70th edition of the Venice Film Festival in 2013, Kiarostami – along with other top directors – was tasked with crafting a short film about the future of digital filmmaking. That Kiarostami was able to fashion this discourse in little over seventy seconds should come as no surprise to those familiar with his lo-fi ingenuity and mastery of the apparatus of his medium.
The film opens on a fixed perspective of a family patriarch watering his garden before a child (behind the camera) calls out “are you ready?” The man assumes his watering is the focus for the filming, but a child jumps into frame and secretly stands on the hose – preventing it from jetting out more water. As the baffled man inspects the end of his hose, the kid hops off, causing a torrent of water to catch the man flush in the face. As well as being an exquisite visual gag befitting the short film format, it also functions as an exposé of Iranian patriarchy (a familiar theme from Kiarostami’s feature films) as the man proceeds to spank the boy.
Crucially though, we cut to another boy behind the camera – the true wielder of the authority of the frame, and thus a fitting emblem for the future of digital filmmaking – classic Kiarostami.
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CAST: Shahed Sherafat, Amir Hossein Mohammad Nejad, Mani Sherafat
DIRECTOR: Abbas Kiarostami
SYNOPSIS: Two boys play a trick on a man watering his garden. One boy stands on his hose, causing the man to get a soaking, while the other boy films it.