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Abbas Kiarostami: Celebrated Iranian director dies

Award-winning film director dies aged 76 in Paris where he had gone to receive cancer treatment.

Abbas Kiarostami

Abbas Kiarostami, the critically acclaimed Iranian director whose 1997 film Taste of Cherry won the prestigious Palme d'Or, has died aged 76.

Iran's official news agency IRNA said late on Monday that Kiarostami died in Paris, where he had gone for cancer treatment last week after undergoing surgery in Iran earlier this year.

Kiarostami wrote and directed dozens of films, winning more than 70 awards over an illustrious career spanning more than 40 years.

He was born in 1940 in Tehran and continued to work from Iran after the 1979 revolution, when many of his fellow artists fled the country.

The influential auteur is possibly best remembered for his minimalist drama Taste of Cherry, which told the story of an Iranian man looking for someone to bury him after he killed himself, and won the top award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997.

Among his other films was Close-Up from 1990, which told the true story of a man who impersonated a filmmaker and tricked a family into believing that he would put them in a film.

His 1987 film Where is the Friend's Home? is a story of honour, about a boy who tries to return schoolwork to a friend.

The 2000 film The Wind Will Carry Us is about journalists from a city who go to a village to write about the death of an old woman, but they have time to learn about and appreciate rural life as the woman lives longer than expected.

Cinemas in Iran were due to pause all showings at 10pm (17:30 GMT) on Tuesday to hold a prayer in Kiarostami's memory.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called Kiarostami's work "an everlasting achievement".

"Kiarostami's different and deep outlook on life, and his invitation to peace and friendship, will be an everlasting achievement," Rouhani wrote on Twitter.

American filmmaker Martin Scorsese also paid tribute to Kiarostami, describing him as "a true gentleman and, truly, one of our great artists".

"I got to know Abbas over the last 10 or 15 years," he said. "He was a very special human being: quiet, elegant, modest, articulate and quite observant. I don't think he missed anything. Our paths crossed too seldom, and I was always glad when they did."

Kiarostami is survived by two sons, Ahmad and Bahman Kiarostami, who work in multimedia and documentary film.

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