The women in Abbas Kiarostami’s cinema

A still from Abbas Kiarostami's film Shirin.

Look at the recent films of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, and you’ll find many prominent women characters. Shirin is an experimental exercise in which we watch women (mostly Iranian actresses) watch a film — a classic Persian love story that we can only hear off-screen. Filmmaker Mani Akbari plays one of several characters in Tenwhose personal struggles, shared freely in the private space of a car, depict a contemporary cross-section of what it’s like to be an Iranian woman. Kiarostami’s films made outside of Iran focus on non-Islamic heterosexual relationships: Certified Copyshows the very different stages of a relationship, presented paradoxically within the same afternoon that supposes James Miller (William Shimell) and his lover (Juliette Binoche) have just had a meet-cute, and/or are embittered ex-life partners. Like Someone in Love illustrates the many forms of love one can find via an old professor who seeks tender companionship from a troubled young prostitute, Akiko (Rin Takanashi). But the film is more uncanny in its sympathetic depiction of Akiko, whose relationships with her suave pimp and territorial fiance present a disturbing picture of gendered dependence.