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Author Topic: Kiarostami takes on Ta`ziya
Mohamad Khan
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posted 14 July 2003 11:10 PM      Profile for Mohamad Khan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
People watching

quote:
Abbas Kiarostami, Iran's most celebrated cultural export, is clearly ruffled. The 63-year-old Iranian film-maker is in Rome to direct a play - his first. That, however, is not the trouble. Up to now, Kiarostami has avoided making overt political comments, preferring to let films like Ten or Taste of Cherry tell their own, sometimes opaque stories of truth and lies in present-day Iran. But now, exasperated by the reversal of the reform process, and spurred on by the recent demonstrations by Iranian students, Kiarostami has decided to speak out.

"The student protests," he says, carefully, "are a natural reaction, after six years of Khatami's presidency. It's clear that he has not maintained the promises he made when he was elected." Like the students, he strongly disagrees with a government proposal to privatise Iranian universities. "I come from a large family; if university had not been free in my day, I wouldn't have been able to go. Our revolution was in favour of the disinherited, the poor. So my request is that the government should remain faithful to its initial intentions."

His politics are expressed more characteristically and obliquely in the play he has chosen to direct in Rome, the Ta'ziyeh (or Ta'ziy, or Ta'ziyah). Best thought of as a Shi'ite passion play, the Ta'ziyeh has over 200 separate texts in the current repertoire, but all focus on one event: the murder of Hussein, son of Ali, and grandson of the prophet Mohammed, in 680AD. Even in Shi'ite Iran, however, the authorities do not always look on the cult of Hussein with favour. "Hussein," says Kiarostami, pointing out the connection with the recent unrest, "is the spiritual leader of the dispossessed."



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