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Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami dies at 76

Kiarostami directed over 40 movies, including the Palme d'Or-winning film Taste of Cherry
File photo taken on 4 December 2007 shows internationally acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami giving instructions during a course with students of the Villa Arson art school in Nice (AFP)

Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has died at the age of 76, Iranian news agencies reported on Monday.

He had been undergoing treatment for cancer in a hospital in France.

Active in the film industry since 1970, Kiarostami was involved in the production of over 40 films.

His 1997 masterpiece Taste of Cherry won him the Palme d'Or, the top prize at France's Cannes Film Festival.

He stayed in Iran after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and continued to direct films. However, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president of the country, he began shooting his movies outside Iran.

Asghar Farhadi, director of Oscar-winning Iranian film A Separation, was due to visit his fellow director and friend in the Paris hospital later on Monday, he told the Guardian.

He said he was "“very sad, in total shock”.

“He wasn’t just a filmmaker ... he was a modern mystic, both in his cinema and his private life," he added.

“He definitely paved ways for others and influenced a great deal of people. It’s not just the world of cinema that has lost a great man; the whole world has lost someone really great.”

Just last week Kiarostami was invited to join the prestigious Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences, which presents the Oscars each year.

The filmmaker was diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer in March.