In Kiarostami’s first feature, a headstrong boy embarks on a series of deceptions so he can travel from his remote village to see a sporting match in Tehran.
Qassem spends his days dodging homework in favour of playing soccer in the street with neighbourhood kids. When he discovers his favourite team is playing in Tehran, Qassem brings a dogged determination to his task of travelling to the city, deceiving adults and children alike along his way. Shot in stark black and white, The Traveler
is a study of obsession, seen through the eyes of a child. Kiarostami searched neighbourhoods where children played soccer and found his young star mid-match: He had extraordinary energy. It meant nothing to him that we asked him to act in a film.
The only thing that was important to him was winning the soccer game.
Kiarostami's lead brings a raw, plucky energy to the role, which the director captures in a seemingly effortless style that roams with him on his single-minded quest. The Traveler
won several prizes and remained popular with audiences throughout Kiarostami's career. The director attributed much of the film's success to the artistic freedom and support he was afforded at Kanoon, the state-run Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults where he made films from the 1970s to the early 1990s.