Here's Your Chance To Go To Cuba & Learn Filmmaking From Abbas Kiarostami!

By Yash Thakur. Posted on December 03, 2015

Cinema, like many other art forms cannot be learned just in closed rooms with books. One needs to step out of their comfort zone and shed some tears and sweat before they master it. Of course, there are a couple of other ways too. One is doing it by yourself, learning everything by experimenting and toying with the medium. The other is under the guidance of an accomplished filmmaker. Well, here's your chance to try the latter. Legendary Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami (who has give the world films like Taste of Cherry, Close-Up, Certified Copy) will be hosting a 10-day workshop for 35 students, each of whom will get the opportunity to make a short film mentored by the Iranian master. The “anti-film school, film school” will be held from January 26th to February 5th.

This will be Kiarostami’s 3rd 'Workshop for Auteurs': the previous two were held in Bogota, Columbia and Barcelona, Spain, while the most recent one in Austria (to be co-taught by Michael Haneke) had to be cancelled due to the fact Kiarostami was shooting his new film in China. Here’s what applicants can expect from the latest one.

What It's All About

When Kiarostami arrives at the workshop's host city, he spends the day walking around, learning about the nearby community and landscape. He then picks a theme for the workshop — in Barcelona it was the sea, in Bogota it was the university — and students then have 10 days to write, shoot and edit a film based on the chosen theme.

"He instructs students to spend the day walking around with that theme in mind and to come up with an idea for a film," Christina Sanchez (student of the Barcelona workshop). "Then in the evening everyone gathers in a circle and starts sharing their ideas. Kiarostami listens one-by-one and gives feedback."

Sanchez added,“If he doesn't see your idea clearly — he believes if you can't explain your idea in words, you won't be able to explain it in images — he won’t give you his blessing to begin shooting.” Luckily, Sanchez said, she was shooting her film by the second day. But some of her peers didn't receive the green light from Kiarostami until day four or five. The filmmaker stays very hands-on throughout the 10-day period, giving constant feedback on dailies and rough cuts.

Things To Keep In Mind

The application process is fairly simple. According to Sanchez, applicants will be chosen largely based on their cover letter stating their motivation to participate in the workshop. Ten of the participants will be selected from the EICTV student body, while 25 additional students will come from outside Cuba. The selection will be based on criteria such as the quality of previous work, technical autonomy, personal motivation & the importance of the workshop in your project as an author.

Also, participants must be self-sufficient filmmakers, in that they must come with their own computers, editing software and a camera, all of which they need to know how to operate. Sanchez emphasized they won’t be making a distinction between amateurs working with iMovie and a Handycam versus professionals coming with an Avid system and an Alexa camera.


Applications are due December 7th.  Participants will find out if they got accepted on December 14.


Tuition is 2500 euros (roughly $2640), which covers accommodations and food for the ten days.

Submissions & Contact Details

Check out their official site here. For further information please send an email here.


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