Abbas Kiarostami, the late-great Iranian filmmaker, has been named the recipient of the WGA West’s 2017 Jean Renoir Award for International Screenwriting Achievement, which recognizes an international writer who has advanced the literature of motion pictures and made outstanding contributions to the profession of screenwriter.
Kiarostami, who died in July, was widely considered to be Iran’s greatest filmmaker, but many of his films were banned in his home country following the Iranian Revolution. The prolific writer-director of such acclaimed films as Close-Up, The Wind Will Carry Us, and the Koker trilogy, his Taste of Cherry — which tells the story of a man who’s looking for someone to bury him after he commits suicide — won the Palme d’Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival. His last completed film, 24 Frames, is in post-production and set to premiere at festivals later this year.
“Abbas Kiarostami was, as Martin Scorsese put it, ‘One of those rare artists with a special knowledge of the world,’” said WGA West president Howard A. Rodman. “As a founding father of the New Iranian Cinema, Kiarostami navigated tricky political and cultural terrains with courage and grace. Yet the impact of his work – and his life – is felt far outside the borders of his native land. Kiarostami’s films were fiction; were documentary, were transcendent. He expanded cinematic narrative for all of us, even as he raised the rhythms of ordinary life to the level of high art.”
The award will be presented at the Writers Guild Awards ceremony on February 19. His son, Ahmad Kiarostami, will accept it on his father’s behalf.
Past recipients of the Jean Renoir Award include Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar; Japan’s Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Ryûzô Kikushima and Hideo Oguni; and Italian screenwriters Suso D’Amico and Tonino Guerra.