ABC Africa

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami.
Iran, 2001, DCP, color, 83 min.
Persian and English with English subtitles.
DCP source: Janus Films

Responding to a request from the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development to make a documentary about the Uganda Women’s Efforts to Save Orphans, Kiarostami and crew traveled to Kampala with DV cameras in hand to learn about the country’s growing orphan population. By the end of the trip, Kiarostami realized they had a film. It was contained in their daily, casual video sketches, which include glimpses into everyday activities and the various ways Ugandans cope with the results of continual war and AIDS. The camera’s eye scours homes, streets, marketplaces and hospitals, as well as UWESO meetings, where participants explain how the community-led organization helps empower women through job training and support for the adopted children. Taken with the predominance of joy and resilience despite extreme hardship, Kiarostami seems in search of the soul of Kampala, and he doesn’t hide his unavoidable position as an outsider and voyeur. He and his assistant’s constant recording allows the audience to experience moments of startling discovery alongside the filmmakers, such as when they happen upon a shrouded, small body being unceremoniously, yet tenderly, wrapped up and placed on the back of a bicycle for burying.

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Late Kiarostami

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Abbas Kiarostami, A Cinema of Participation