20th April 2016

Classic Review: Where is the Friend’s Home?

Where is the Friend’s House?, the film that brought Abbas Kiarostami to attention, beautifully explores the Koker region of Iran

“As long as the protagonist wants something, the audience will want something.” – David Mamet.

This idea is well executed by the master filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami in his first film of the Koker trilogy, Where is the Friend’s Home? This film was awarded the Bronze Prize at the 1989 Locarno Film Festival. The Koker trilogy was coined by film critics and academics. According to Kiarostami, the films were shot coincidentally in the region of Koker, Iran. This is the film by which Kiarostami announced himself to world cinema. The title of the film is derived from Sohrab Sepeheri’s poem, Khaneh Ye Dost Kojast?

The film regards the simple idea where 8-year-old Ahmad must return his friend Mohmad Reda Nematzadeh’s notebook that he had taken by mistake. If he doesn’t return it in time, his friend will get expelled from school.

The film explores the beautiful geography of the Koker region, the journey from Koker to Posteh (Nematzadeh’s village). One particular image portrayed in the film on Ahmad’s journey taken from Sepeheri’s poem is the zigzag path on the mountain with an olive tree on the top. This also shows the moment where Ahmad defies his mother and leaves his house to return the notebook back to his friend.

The film also strays from the narrative and focuses on the thoughts of an old man. According to him, young kids should be beaten to discipline them more, but in his narcissism he forgets about the fact that Ahmad is learning discipline and compassion through his own experiences by going through the search of his friend’s house.

The film ends with a small flower kept in Nematzadeh’s notebook. According academics, it was a gift from Kiarostami to the two boys for their selflessness and their friendship in this hostile world.

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