Some film trilogies are deliberate creations: meticulous superproductions with elaborate thematic and narrative designs that aspire to the density of novels. Others occur more organically, with filmmakers gradually improvising after an unexpected breakthrough.
An exemplar of the latter type is Abbas Kiarostami’s informal Koker trilogy. The opening feature, Where is the Friend’s House?, offers a straightforward but meditative fable about a young boy’s search for a classmate’s home. When an earthquake nearly destroyed the village where Friend’s House was shot, Kiarostami embarked on a quest of his own, returning to Koker to learn the whereabouts of the boys who starred in the film. He fictionalized this search in the faux-documentary Life and Nothing More… and further fictionalized the making of that film in Through the Olive Trees. As described by the Pacific Film Archive, “Expecting to find death, Kiarostami found life, and proceeded to transform it into cinema.”
The Koker films garnered an enormous reputation but have remained difficult to see, not least because Through the Olive Trees was acquired and then withheld from release by Miramax. At the time, Miramax was focusing its attention on Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Three Colors trilogy — a multinational monument to the history of art house cinema and a forward-looking dream of a European Union. Crisscrossing the continent and musing on fate, discipline, and love, Kieślowski’s triptych scales impossible emotional heights. It also looks particularly interesting today as the eurozone that Kieślowski celebrates teeters on the economic brink — a fate also shared by Freedonia, the make-believe country inhabited by the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup, the beloved conclusion to their informal trilogy of anarchic, animal-inflected comedies conceived directly for the screen.
Tuesday, May 1, 8 p.m. .
Where is the Friend’s House?
(Khaneh-je doost kojast?, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran 1987, 87 min., Farsi w/subtitles)
Tuesday, May 8, 8 p.m. .
Life and Nothing More
(Zendegi va digar hich, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran 1992, 91 min., Farsi w/subtitles)
Tuesday, May 15, 8 p.m. .
Through the Olive Trees
(Zir-e darakhtan-e zeyton, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran 1994, 108 min, Farsi w/subtitles)
Tuesday, May 22, 8 p.m. .
(Norman Z. McLeod, US 1931, 77 min.)
Tuesday, May 29, 8 p.m. .
(Norman Z. McLeod, US 1932, 68 min.)
Tuesday, June 5, 8 p.m. .
(Leo McCarey, US 1933, 68 min.)
Tuesday, June 12, 8 p.m. .
(Trois Couleurs: Bleu, Krzysztof Kieslowski 1993, France/Poland/Switzerland, 94 min., French/Romanian/Polish w/subtitles)
Tuesday, June 19, 8 p.m. .
(Trois Couleurs: Blanc, Krzysztof Kieslowski 1994, France/Poland/Switzerland, 87 min, French/Polish/English/Russian w/subtitles)
Tuesday, June 26, 8 p.m. .
(Trois Couleurs: Rouge, Krzysztof Kieslowski 1994, France/Poland/Switzerland, 99 min., French w/subtitles)