Abbas Kiarostami

Where is my Romeo?

Palazzo Piccolomini, Pienza

In conjunction with What is a Youth?, an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 cinematic adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Palazzo Piccolomini in Pienza, Siena—where the Capuleti's palace was set—hosted a tribute to Iranian film master Abbas Kiarostami (1940, Tehran – 2016, Paris).

Presented alongside Danilo Donati’s Academy Award-winning original costumes and a selection of behind-the-scenes photos displayed in the Renaissance halls where they were originally taken, Where is my Romeo is Kiarostami’s contribution to the Cannes-commissioned anthology Chacun son cinéma (To Each His Own Cinema, 2007). Each director’s challenge was to create a three-minute film that somehow describes “their state of mind of the moment as inspired by the motion picture theatre.” Kiarostami responded with a film composed of a succession of close-ups of Iranian women watching the last tragic minutes of Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo & Juliet.

Thematically related to his next feature Shirin (2008), Where is my Romeo is entirely set in a movie theatre. The film-within-the-film is heard but never shown. Juliet’s suicide unfolds, therefore, through the film’s succession of reaction shots, through these actresses’ faces, as we listen in on the auditory stimulus that augments the screen images they see and we do not. Understandably and unavoidably, viewers will find themselves trying to construct a visual counterpart to the dialogue. But as the film progresses they will likely begin to contemplate their own spectatorship.

Installation view of Where is my Romeo? (Abbas Kiarostami, 2007) at Palazzo Piccolomini, Pienza, 2018.

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