We Lost Two Great Filmmakers - Michael Cimino & Abbas Kiarostami
by Alex Billington
July 5, 2016
This is a rough week for cinema. Over the weekend, two outstanding, profound filmmakers passed away - American filmmaker Michael Cimino, and Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. Both of them have made a number of fantastic films that have rightfully earned a place in cinema history, and many cinephiles are feeling the loss of these two great storytellers. Cimino died on July 2nd at the age of 77 at his home in Los Angeles (via CNN). Kiarostami died on July 4th at the age of 76 of cancer at his home in Paris, France (via BBC). Both are being remembered in beautiful, heartfelt ways on social media (a few samples included below) and you can remember them as well by watching their films. Especially any of them you haven't seen.
Here are just a few of the warm remembrances for both filmmakers posted to Twitter since their passing:
I wish I had paid tribute to Michael Cimino while he was alive.
He was an important and masterful film maker.
We will always have his work
— William Friedkin (@WilliamFriedkin) July 2, 2016
Say what you will about Michael Cimino but, when he was "on", he had more power, fierce intelligence and real vision, than most anyone else.
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) July 3, 2016
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot
The Deer Hunter
- Michael Cimino
May the rest of us do half as well.
— ChristopherMcQuarrie (@chrismcquarrie) July 2, 2016
Filming 'The Deer Hunter' (1978) pic.twitter.com/Y3m6eDO7qa
— TATJANA SL (@TATJANASL) July 2, 2016
"Kiarostami represents the highest level of artistry in the cinema." - Martin Scorsese pic.twitter.com/TZUF2YhHbx
— The Film Stage (@TheFilmStage) July 4, 2016
I thought to myself "I'll never see another Kiarostami film" & started to cry—but I was wrong; each viewing of his films is a new experience
— Adam Cook (@AdamCook) July 4, 2016
Terrible time, terrible news: Abbas Kiarostami—epochal form-creator, symbolist, ironist—did that rare thing:identified a place with a style.
— Richard Brody (@tnyfrontrow) July 4, 2016
— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) July 5, 2016
I have come along with the wind
on the first day of summer
The wind will carry me away
on the last day of autumn
- Abbas Kiarostami
— تینا (@tinahassannia) July 4, 2016
Michael Cimino was born in New York City in 1939. He originally studied architecture and dramatic arts and filmed advertisements and documentaries and also wrote scripts. His big break came when Clint Eastwood gave him the opportunity to direct the thriller Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, released in 1974. He later went on to direct the Vietnam War drama The Deer Hunter, which won Best Picture (and four other Oscars) in 1979, plus Heaven's Gate, Year of the Dragon, The Sicilian, Desperate Hours and his last film was The Sunchaser in 1996, with Woody Harrelson. In a 2010 interview in Vanity Fair, Cimino stated: "Nobody lives without making mistakes… I never second-guess myself. You can’t look back. I don’t believe in defeat. Everybody has bumps, but as Count Basie said, 'It's not how you handle the hills, it's how you handle the valleys.'" Indeed.
Abbas Kiarostami was born in Tehran, Iran in 1940. He graduated from university with a degree in fine arts before starting work as a graphic designer. Kiarostami remained in Iran after the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and made more than 40 films, including documentaries. He won the Palme d'or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 with the film Taste of Cherry, and won a Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1999 with the film The Wind Will Carry Us. While his entire filmography is impressive and worth exploring, he gained the most international acclaim with his two most recent films, Certified Copy (2010) and Like Someone in Love (2012), which were both made outside of Iran. Jean-Luc Godard apparently once said: "Film begins with DW Griffith and ends with Abbas Kiarostami." See a photo of Kiarostami with Akira Kurosawa here.
These two filmmakers will be remembered fondly by their work and their storytelling spirit. Rest in peace.