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LIFE AND NOTHING MORE

Iran, 1992 (MIFF 1993, Spotlight Iran)

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Awarded the Rossellini Prize at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival, this latest achieve­ment by one of Iran's foremost filmmakers takes us to the aftermath of the devastating 1990 earthquakes in Northern Iraq, which killed some 50,000 people. It is to this region (the set­ting of Kiarostami's film, Where Is the Friend's Home?) that the director returns, in order to dis­cover the fate of the two young actors who had played central roles in his 1987 feature.

His search becomes the dramatic source of Life and Nothing More, a film that pushes at the boundaries between fiction and documentary: first by casting actors to portray the filmmaker and his son, then by careful scripting of all the 'improvised' dialogue, and the setting up of every unplanned shot. The director's journey to find the two young boys is real, but the search is represented by a fiction. Thus Kiarostami engages the viewer in cinema's process of transforming the very reality it so urgently works to convey.

The film's initial embracing tragedy dimin­ishes in the face of the steadfast and vibrant sense of hope displayed by a people trying to rebuild their lives. The power of nature's beau­ty, as witnessed in the lush northern landscape, is counterbalanced by its power to destroy, and this duplicitous environment is accepted, rather than fought against, by the inhabitants.

The strength of Kiarostami's Life and Noth­ing More lies both in the simplicity and prima­cy with which lie renders his powerful subject, as well as the steadfastness of his characters' desire for truth — even when that truth is else­where than expected.

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