Image from "Through the Olive Trees"
  • Image from "Through the Olive Trees"

Abbas Kiarostami’s Koker Trilogy

Fiction and documentary blend seamlessly in the Koker Trilogy, one of the major accomplishments of Iran’s late master filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (1940–2016). Made between 1987 and 1994, the trilogy consists of three films centered around the eponymous northern Iranian village. In Where Is the Friend’s House? (1987) a Persian schoolboy walks many miles from Koker to a neighboring village to return a forgotten notebook to a classmate who will be in hot water without it. The second movie, And Life Goes On (1992), was released two years after an earthquake devastated northern Iran, killing tens of thousands of people. This docudrama follows a Kiarostami-like film director and his young son (both played by actors) as they drive to quake-ravaged Koker on battered roads to discover the real-life fate of the two nonprofessional child actors who starred in Where Is the Friend’s House?

The trilogy concludes with Through the Olive Trees (1994), which expands upon a sequence in And Life Goes On. One of the nonprofessional actors in that second film is an earnest stonemason who seeks to marry the single young woman cast as his on-screen wife. But because he is poor and illiterate, she will have nothing to do with him. Yet he persists.

Kiarostami’s humanism and compassion shine through in all three films—along with his quietly radical commitment to the fourth-wall-breaking possibilities of contemporary cinema.

John Ewing
Curator of Film

Tuesday, September 24, 2019, 1:45 pm to 3:10 pm
Friday, September 27, 2019, 7:00 pm to 8:25 pm

An Iranian schoolboy walks miles to an unfamiliar village to return a notebook to a classmate who may be expelled without it. The first part of Abbas Kiarostami’s Koker Trilogy is a moving tale of compassion and moral courage enhanced by humor, suspense, and poetry.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019, 1:45 pm to 3:20 pm
Friday, October 11, 2019, 7:00 pm to 8:35 pm

A film director and his young son drive to an earthquake-ravaged village in northern Iran to learn the fate of two children who acted in an earlier movie by the filmmaker. Shot in real locations shattered by a 1990 temblor, the second part of Kiarostami’s Koker Trilogy celebrates survival and resiliency.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019, 1:45 pm to 3:30 pm
Friday, October 25, 2019, 7:00 pm to 8:45 pm

A bricklayer starring in a movie being shot in an earthquake-ravaged Iranian village falls in love with his nonprofessional co-star, but she refuses to talk to him because of his lower station in life. The conclusion to Kiarostami’s Koker Trilogy is another tale of stamina and persistence.