Abc Africa

The most accessible film to date by Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami, though some have been scared away (unwarrantedly, in my opinion) by its subject matter: the many Ugandan children orphaned by AIDS. In fact, much of this 2001 digital video documentary focuses on the kids singing and dancing. But a brief scene in a hospital and a few interviews tell us all the disturbing facts we need to know, and the second half moves beyond conventional documentary into Kiarostami’s brand of provocative philosophical inquiry. One scene in total darkness recalls Taste of Cherry and The Wind Will Carry Us, and another set in a ruined house in the rain is as lovely as anything in Life and Nothing More. Like virtually all of Kiarostami’s mature work, this centers on the issues raised when a well-to-do filmmaker interacts with poor people and expresses his admiration for their resilience. 83 min. (JR)

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