Thousands Attend Funeral for Acclaimed Iranian Film Director Abbas Kiarostami

Artists, officials and film lovers, including Iran's first Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi, gathered to celebrate the life of the man who brought 'emerging enthusiasm among international audiences' to see Iranian films.

Iranian film assistant directors carry Kiarostami's coffin while a woman holds a poster of his face at his funeral ceremony in Iran July 10, 2016.
Vahid Salemi, AP

AP — Thousands of Iranians attended the Sunday funeral ceremony of the acclaimed Iranian film director, Abbas Kiarostami, who died last week at the age of 76 in Paris.

Officials, artists and film lovers gathered to say goodbye to Kiarostami at the Center for the Intellectual Education of Children, where he began his film-making career some 40 years ago. Many wept, clapped their hands and recited verses of the Muslim holy book.

During the ceremony his fellow director, Asghar Farhadi, who won Iran's first Oscar for "A Separation" in 2012 said, "I can't believe that I am making speech on the occasion of his eternal departure. Iranian films owe him for the emerging enthusiasm among international audiences to see the films."

Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi speaks during Kiarostami's funeral ceremony July 10, 2016.
Atta Kenare, AFP

Deputy culture minister Hojjatollah Ayoubi praised Kiarostami and described him as representative of Iran's rich cultural history.

Hossein Fereidoun, the brother and top adviser to President Hassan Rouhani, and many lawmakers were among the attendees. The nearby streets were decorated with portraits of Kiarostami.

He was later buried in a private ceremony in northern Tehran.

His death was mourned by many in Iran. Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif issued messages of condolence and hundreds of people lit candles for him at Tehran Cinema Museum.

Kiarostami wrote and directed dozens of films. His 1997 film "Taste of Cherry" won the prestigious Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.