It was a hot June evening last year when my wife and I received an invitation for a gathering at a rooftop garden here. No reason for the event was given, but when we walked in — carelessly, without gifts — it turned out that a monument of cinema was celebrating his 75th birthday.
It was a surprise get-together, and the guest of honor, Abbas Kiarostami — a filmmaker, photographer and poet — quietly and modestly received congratulations, the same way he had received dozens of international awards for his movies.
His trusted assistant, Hamideh Razavi, had invited intellectuals, cinematographers, actors and actresses, and journalists like me to celebrate a man who was one of the most internationally well known Iranians alive. Ms. Razavi made the rounds, hopping from guest to guest while Mr. Kiarostami, wearing his signature sunglasses, sat surrounded by friends and acquaintances. He was silent, shy almost, as he had always been.