Close Up

13 June 2017: School Films


Abbas Kiarostami
1989 | 70 min | Colour | Digital

"A major film by the greatest of all Iranian filmmakers, Abbas Kiarostami, this is an idiosyncratic though mainly straightforward 16-millimeter documentary about the homework done by boys in primary school, with the interviews carried out by Kiarostami himself. For all the simplicity of its approach, this film has a great deal to impart about Iran during its war with Iraq, and some of the unorthodox formal procedures carried out by Kiarostami are as provocative as in his subsequent documentary masterpiece, Close-Up; moreover, the director seems every bit as adept as Truffaut at handling children with respect." – Jonathan Rosenbaum

Two Solutions for One Problem
Abbas Kiarostami
1975 | 5 min | Colour | Digital

“Try to imagine Laurel and Hardy directed by Robert Bresson and you may get some notion of the hilarious performance style of Two Solutions for One Problem, a syncopated, deadpan grudge match between two schoolboys that ensues after one returns a borrowed book to the other with its cover torn. The camera lingers on the resulting damage, including a broken pencil, a ripped shirt and a split ruler, while an offscreen narrator explains whose possessions got destroyed; then the story begins again with the torn book cover being glued back by the guilty party, proposing a second solution to the problem.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum

Abbas Kiarostami
1975 | 14 min | Colour | Digital

The Colours recalls the abstract montages of Hollis Frampton’s Zorn’s Lemma in terms of its colour coding, but it also indulges violent fantasies involving cars, guns, little boys and paint.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum

So Can I
Abbas Kiarostami
1976 | 4 min | Colour | Digital

"Structured around two opposing scenarios, like several other films Kiarostami made for Kanoon, this short film invited primary school children to look at the way animals move, and then to think about those movements in comparison with their own." – Alberto Elena

Orderly or Disorderly
Abbas Kiarostami
1981 | 16 min | Colour | Digital

“The most remarkable of the shorts, Orderly or Disorderly, shows boys leaving a classroom, heading for a water fountain and getting on a bus, then offers a cosmic overview of adults driving through a busy section of Tehran. Each action is shown twice, with the boys or adults behaving in an orderly or disorderly fashion, though the degree to which this is being staged or documented is teasingly imprecise – a kind of ambiguity that continues in Kiarostami’s work all the way up to Ten.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum

Part of our Abbas Kiarostami season