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(PIFF) Iranian director says Binoche made him forget to say cut in 'Certified Copy'
By Kim Hyun
BUSAN, Oct. 12 (Yonhap) -- "Certified Copy," a subtle drama about marriage and a relationship starring Juliette Binoche, began as a simple single-page story, but on-screen chemistry sometimes made him forget to say cut on the set, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami said Tuesday.

   In the film shot in Italy, Binoche plays a French woman who lives with her son in Tuscany. A British art critic, played by British singer William Shimell, visits there on a promotion tour for his book, and they set out on a driving tour for a day. Treated by locals as a married couple, they play along, saying they have been married for 15 years.

   "My story was simple, written in one page," said Kiarostami, who made "Where Is the Friend's Home?" (1987), "And Life Goes On" (1992) and "A Taste of Cherry," which won the Palme d'Or at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.

   "I felt I was listening to music I've written before," he said in a press conference at the Pusan International Film Festival, where his film is being shown. "Sometimes I forgot to say cut on the set because I forgot my actual job there."

   The story evolves as it shifts through reality and forgery, as the pair apparently bring their own marriage experiences to their fake relationship between a workaholic, uncaring husband and a wife feeling rejected and lonely.

   Chance encounters fatten their talks of marriage. In a museum they visit, a curator explains how a fabulous painting was long admired as Roman art, but was found to be the work of a skilled forger. Despite the shock and disappointment, the curator says the museum decided to keep it with great care.

   At a cafe, an old cook tells her to appreciate what she has. She says an ideal husband "doesn't exist. It's stupid of us to ruin our lives for an ideal."

   Through the breezy encounter in Tuscan sunlight, the film asks the audience how much of what we see is genuine and what one can do with what is less than satisfactory.

   Binoche's acting "was coming from her technical experience. Her acting passed through very deep feelings inside her and came out from herself," Kiarostami said of the actress who won the best actress award for her role at Cannes.

   Binoche said she visited Kiarostami in his home in Tehran to decide on her acting, but quickly added they had no romantic intentions.

   "The first day I arrived at his home, I was worried of course, because a man and woman alone in a house, it's ... the actress and director sort of story we know about," she said. "I was very straightforward about it. 'I want friendship. I want art. I want sharing lives and everything, but I don't want a relationship. Is that clear?' And he was so relieved and so happy that we didn't have to go through all that about the relationship."

   The problem, rather, was casting the male actor. Binoche rejected three "old" actors and finally approved when the director brought in 52-year-old Shimell, fresh from an opera he was starring in.

   "Juliette didn't like any of them. They were going to play a couple in front of the camera, so at least there should be a primitive feeling," he said. "So when I introduced the third gentleman, she said, 'You didn't know what you did to me, trying to introduce these old men to me and punish me with that.'"

   He added, "The first day I saw William, I thought he is my actor."

   "Certified Copy," which premiered at Cannes in May, was Kiarostami's first film to be shot abroad. With his cinemas banned in Iran for more than a decade, his next filming location will be Korea or Japan, even though he'd prefer to shoot in his home country, he said.

   "I don't know if I'm happy about this or not, but at present I have a hard situation, and the condition of making film in Iran is not so good."

Abbas Kiarostami helps Juliette Binoche put on an electronic interpretation device before starting their press conference on "Certified Copy" at the Pusan International Film Festival. (Yonhap)