In 1997, Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his film, Touch of Cherry. Regardless, Kiarostami remains relatively unknown in America to this day. I fortunately heard about this great filmmaker through my friend George, who urged me to watch his films.
The Taste of Cherry DVD (Criterion Collection, 1999), includes videotaped interviews of Kiarostami. His candid words deeply inspired and encouraged me the other night. He emboldened me to follow my instincts and make the film I want to make.
What I don’t like, you don’t see in my films. But in all, I don’t like to engage in telling stories. I don’t like to arouse the viewer emotionally or give him advice. I don’t like to belittle him or burden him with a sense of guilt. Those are the things I don’t like in movies.
I think a good film is one that has a lasting power, and you start to reconstruct it right after you leave the theater. There are a lot of films that seem to be boring, but they are decent films. On the other hand, there are films that nail you to your seat and overwhelm you to the point that you forget everything, but you feel cheated later. These are the films that take you hostage.
I absolutely don’t like the films in which the filmmakers take their viewers hostage and provoke them. I prefer the films that put their audience to sleep in the theater. I think those films are kind enough to allow you a nice nap and not leave you disturbed when you leave the theater.
Some films have made me doze off in the theater, but the same films have made me stay up at night, wake me up thinking about them in the morning, and keep on thinking about them for weeks. Those are the kinds of films I like.