ABU DHABI // The Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami reduced the French actress Juliette Binoche to tears when he screened their latest film, Certified Copy.
The movie is set in Tuscany, Italy, in the small village of Lucignano, and follows the story of an English writer who encounters a French women while promoting his latest book. Mr Kiarostami describes it as "a tale of sorrow and love".
"Juliette said this was the role closest to her real character," he said, speaking at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.
"When we screened the movie a few days ago in Korea, I was sitting next to Juliette and, every time a scene of her crying appeared on screen, I would turn and look at her and see tears in her eyes."
He says it was the first time he had seen an actor under the spell of the emotion of the film.
"These leading actors truly made my role as a director quite simple. From the first day of filming, they profoundly took on their roles and advanced the film," he said.
Born in Tehran, Mr Kiarostami was 20 when he entered the world of cinematography in 1960. He won his first international award, the Bronze Pardo at Locarno Festival, in 1989. In 1992, he won the Rossellini Prize at Cannes.
He prefers to work with non-professional actors in natural surroundings. His leading man in Certified Copy, William Shimell, had never appeared in front of a camera before taking on the role.
The movie received good reviews, and Juliette Binoche won the Best Actress award at the 63rd Annual Cannes Film Festival in France this year.
Iraqi director Oday Rasheed, whose movie Qarantina is also being shown at the festival, paid tribute to the film.
"Abbas takes us beyond film. He holds the essential elements of human beings and then extends them onto the screen," Mr Rasheed said. "This is what is lacking in today's industry."