Abbas Kiarostami’s Childhood Films

Abbas Kiarostami’s Childhood Films

18 Episodes

Long before he became one of the most renowned artists in world cinema, the great Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami began his cinematic career at the Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (a.k.a. Kanoon) in Tehran, where he honed his distinctive style and themes and initiated a three-decade-long string of films made about or for children. From his very first short THE BREAD AND ALLEY (which the director called the “mother of all my films”) to underseen early revelations like EXPERIENCE and THE TRAVELER to his beloved international breakthrough WHERE IS THE FRIEND’S HOUSE?, these graceful, playful, and deceptively simple works use the small, relatable struggles of children to point to major universal truths about society, ethics, morality, and the human condition.

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Abbas Kiarostami’s Childhood Films
  • Godfrey Cheshire on Abbas Kiarostami’s Childhood Films

    Episode 1

    The following introduction by critic Godfrey Cheshire—whose latest book is “In the Time of Kiarostami”—was recorded in 2022.

  • The Traveler

    Episode 2

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1974 • Iran
    Starring Hassan Darabi, Pare Gol Atashjameh

    Abbas Kiarostami’s first feature focuses on a boy in a provincial city so avid to get to Tehran to see a soccer match that he’ll lie to adults and cheat other kids. A quest film that’s also a study of youthful...

  • First Graders

    Episode 3

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1984 • Iran

    Inspired by his work at Kanoon and his own sons’ schooling, the first of Abbas Kiarostami’s two documentary features about education looks in on a schoolyard of chanting, playful boys but mainly transpires in the office of a supervisor who has to deal w...

  • Where Is the Friend’s House?

    Episode 4

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1987 • Iran

    The first film in Abbas Kiarostami’s sublime, interlacing KOKER TRILOGY takes a simple premise—a boy searches for the home of his classmate, whose school notebook he has accidentally taken—and transforms it into a miraculous, child’s-eye adventure of ...

  • Homework

    Episode 5

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1989 • Iran

    In Abbas Kiarostami’s second documentary feature about education, the filmmaker himself asks the questions, probing a succession of invariably cute first- and second-graders about their home situations and the schoolwork they must do there. It emerges t...

  • And Life Goes On

    Episode 6

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1992 • Iran
    Starring Farhad Kheradmand, Pouya Payvar, Hossein Rezai

    In the aftermath of the 1990 earthquake in Iran that left fifty thousand dead, Abbas Kiarostami returned to Koker, where his camera surveys not only devastation but also the teeming life in its wak...

  • ABC Africa

    Episode 7

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 2001 • Iran
    Starring Abbas Kiarostami, Seifollah Samadian

    In 2000, Abbas Kiarostami traveled to Africa at the request of the United Nations to document a humanitarian crisis unfolding in Uganda, where 1.5 million children had been orphaned by civil war and AIDS. Wo...

  • The Bread and Alley

    Episode 8

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1970 • Iran
    Starring Reza Hashemi, Mehdi Shahravanfar

    “The mother of all my films,” according to Abbas Kiarostami, starts out as a breezily observed anecdote about a boy wending his way home through Tehran alleys carrying a loaf of bread. Variations on both the boy...

  • Breaktime

    Episode 9

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1972 • Iran
    Starring Sirous Hassanpour

    Disciplined at school for breaking a window, a boy joins throngs of his schoolmates as they make a cacophonous exit into Tehran’s streets. He then briefly joins an impromptu soccer game but disrupts it by stealing the ball and...

  • Experience

    Episode 10

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1973 • Iran
    Starring Parviz Naderi, Hossein Yarmohammadi, Andre Govalovish

    Based on a story by Amir Naderi, who also cowrote the film, this slice of a fourteen-year-old boy’s life follows his efforts to fend for himself in the big city, working as a tea server and ...

  • So Can I

    Episode 11

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1975 • Iran

    The first of Abbas Kiarostami’s films made for, rather than about, children was an experiment in combining live action and animation, done in collaboration with animator Nafiseh Riahi. As two schoolboys watch animated views of animals’ actions—kangaroos...

  • Two Solutions for One Problem

    Episode 12

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1975 • Iran

    This simple moral tale seems to prefigure WHERE IS THE FRIEND’S HOUSE? Two young schoolboys, Dara and Nader, are friends until Dara returns Nader’s notebook torn and Nader retaliates in kind, setting off an escalating battle that leads to destruction of...

  • A Wedding Suit

    Episode 13

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1976 • Iran
    Starring Mohammad Fassih, Mehdi Nekoueï, Massoud Zand

    In a trilevel shopping arcade, a teenage boy who works for a tailor is besieged by two other boys who want to borrow a new suit to wear on a social outing before it’s turned over to its owner. One of...

  • The Colors

    Episode 14

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1976 • Iran

    Ostensibly a film for children, this picture-book essay about the range of hues that brighten our world has the air of a delightfully playful formalistic exercise. As a narrator runs though the colors one by one, Abbas Kiarostami shows us where each app...

  • Tribute to Teachers

    Episode 15

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1977 • Iran

    An assignment from Iran’s Ministry of Education, this documentary from the last years of the Pahlavi dynasty includes interviews with officials who predictably praise teaching as a sacred, noble, and honorable profession. The teachers who are also inter...

  • First Case, Second Case

    Episode 16

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1979 • Iran
    Starring Mehdi Azadbakht, Mohammadreza Barati, Hedayat Matin Daftari

    Made in the spring of 1979, not long after the shah’s overthrow, this extraordinary film serves as a Rorschach blot for people in a revolutionary mindset. Abbas Kiarostami stages two v...

  • Toothache

    Episode 17

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1980 • Iran

    Though much of this film by Abbas Kiarostami is a straightforward lecture about dental hygiene delivered by a dentist facing the camera, it still manages to be persuasively Kiarostami-esque in its description of young Mohammad-Reza’s life at home and sc...

  • Orderly or Disorderly

    Episode 18

    Directed by Abbas Kiarostami • 1981 • Iran

    The first shot shows students descending a staircase in calm, orderly fashion, then the second details the same action as a chaotic rush. Separated by slates and director Abbas Kiarostami’s voice intoning, “Sound, camera,” subsequent sequences describe ...