Interview with ‘roads’ director leads nowhere

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Interview with ‘roads’ director leads nowhere

It was like watching a wise man answering silly questions from the uncivilized. Or maybe it was just that many people were too used to Hollywood movies to accept the fact that some films could be just different.
The press conference on Friday with the Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami could have been both.
Mr. Kiarostami came to Seoul on Thursday to participate in an environmental film festival that invited his film to be its opening number. Although looking a bit tired from the jet lag and the cold he said he had, the room bustled with excitement as the director, a habitual Cannes nominee and winner, walked in wearing his trademark dark sunglasses. The meeting started off quite friendly ― or so it seemed.
He started out saying he was thankful that Seoul invited him and said he was familiar with the city because he saw advertisements for big Korean companies such as LG and Samsung on the streets of Tehran, his home.
Many were curious to know about his new film, "Roads of Kiarostami," a 32-minute film he created to enter the second Green Film Festival in Seoul. The film shows continuous image of the roads he had shot through his personal photo works. Many were curious what a road meant to him, why he chose such roads for his film and also why this film seemed to be a bit different from his previous films.
His answer was simple and short: Watch the film, he said. "If you saw it already, then watch it again," a Korean translator said, interpreting the director’s Farsi. "If you watch the film carefully, you will have the answers to those questions."
When asked why he talked about nature so much in most of his films, he replied rather ambiguously: "Some things are intentional,” Mr. Kiarostami said. “But somethings just come naturally.”
As if he wanted to add some detail to his answer, however, he said, "If I had passed the qualification test to become a dentist, I would have been a dentist by now. But I failed and I went to an arts school. So I make films."
Asked what he thought about North Korea, given the director’s experience in a society in which art and expression were restricted, Mr. Kiarostami refused to compare Iran with North Korea.
"I don't think one has the right to talk about another country before having experienced living there," he said. About the situation in Iran, he said, he understands that people simply consider the country rich in oil but full of poor people.
But his enigmatic style of speech was at its most vague when he was asked how he enjoyed his first day in Seoul watching his film with a Korean audience. He said the opening ceremony was too long and too loud for him.
The director kept smiling throughout the conference, unlike some in the audience, who looked confused by what should have been a simple yes-or-no question and answer session.


by Lee Min-a
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