Abbas Kiarostami, Iran, 1987, 83 min., Persian w/ English subtitles
Kiarostami first rose to international prominence with a modernist, humane trilogy of films set in and around the Iranian village of Koker, before and after a devastating earthquake there. Reflecting the director’s multilayered engagement with cinema—and the audience—the trilogy begins with this lyrical tale of a schoolboy’s journey to return a notebook belonging to his best friend. Kiarostami frequently uses children as protagonists, and his treatment of them is always enlightening: through them, he embraces the human condition in general. Though these kids’ worlds are almost mystically charged with significance, they are also couched in a wry tone of comic realism. The simple, lyrical tale of Where is the Friend’s Home? is drawn from a poem by poet-philosopher Sohrab Sepehri, whose subject encounters places and moments of great beauty and wonder.