An Interview with Geoff Andrew
Return to Uncertainty
by Ehsan Khoshbakht
Geoff Andrew is one of the most famous critics supporting Kiarostami. However, unlike other critics who admire Iranian director, perhaps and with exception of Jonathan Rosenbaum, he is one of the few people who brought his admiration for the filmmaker under the spotlight and as a writer and journalist played a significant role in introducing Kiarostami to the western audience. His very carefully structured book on Ten, as part of BFI Modern Classics series, represents a distillate of his thoughts and feelings about Ten and Kiarostami in general. Also, a great part of this brilliant book comes out of his interviews with Kiarostami during the past 7-8 years.
Andrew is also senior film editor of Time Out London, programmer of the National Film Theater, and author of numerous books, including The Films of Nicholas Ray: The Poet of Nightfall and The 'Three Colors' Trilogy (again as part of BFI Modern Classics).
This interview, about Kiarostami’s cinema took place at National Film Theater, London in April 2011.
What interests you most in Kiarostami’s cinema as a westerner?
Well, it has nothing to do with Iran. It has nothing to do with finding out about Iran. Obviously it’s interesting, but I don’t know if I can trust his films as a portrait of Iran. I think what I love about his films is that on one level they are very simple. He tells very simple stories. Or maybe they don’t tell any story! But on another level they are often very complex and sophisticated. Because they make us ask questions over time. When we watch most films, director is telling us everything, telling us how to feel, telling us what is happening. With Kiarostami’s work I think he is not telling us how to feel. He is not even telling us this person or that person is doing this. He is inviting us to consider what we see and what we hear and ask ourselves questions about it. So, with Kiarostami I never feel static. Even if you watch it 10 times there are still questions to be asked. I have watched Certified Copy four times and each time I see it, I understand it less, which is good. I have to keep going back to it. I don’t know what the relationship between these two people is.
Many pieces of film criticism on Certified Copy question if the couple knew each other from the past, or if their relationship actually starts at the beginning of the film.
Impossible to tell! Abbas doesn’t know himself. I have spoken to Juliet about it, I haven’t spoken to William Shimell about it, but I interviewed Abbas and Juliet and it was like no one knows. I don’t really know!...
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2011, Film International
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Publishing Date Summer 2011
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