When Abbas Kiarostami's Taste Of Cherry shared the Palme d'Or with Shohei Imamura's The Eel at the 50th Cannes Film Festival in 1997, the Iranian auteur was no stranger to Cannes. Life And Nothing More had won the Un Certain Regard award in 1992; Through The Olive Trees screened in Competition in 1994; and Jafar Panahi's The White Balloon, which Kiarostami wrote, won the Camera d'Or in 1995. The Palme d'Or established Kiarostami internationally as the pre-eminent realist auteur.

What did it feel like to win the Palme d'Or'
I had mixed feelings: happy, anxious, excited, overwhelmed, surprised... All in all, very happy and very sad - maybe because of the fear the happiness won't last.

How did you celebrate'
Officially, the usual happenings, but unofficially, by phone - I called my best friends to share the news, in particular the main character in Taste Of Cherry who was following via satellite in Iran.

Did it make it easier to attract funding for subsequent projects'
I'm sure it did, but mostly I felt more protected. It's hard to explain but when you are recognised internationally, you have more room to manoeuvre.

Where do you keep your Palme d'Or'
I gave it to the Iranian Museum of Cinema.

What have been the most important shifts in the industry during your career'
The DV camera, of course.

How do you see the role of festivals changing'
Festivals are becoming more and more creative, coming up with brilliant ideas of how to offer interested people new insights and more food for thought. This should rightfully be the most important concern of any festival that considers itself as a cultural event.

What are your hopes and fears for the future'
Right now my fear is political: I fear that warmongers from everywhere in the world, regardless of their nationality or religion, are working hand in hand tomake the world an unsafe place for all of us to live in. My hope is that they won't succeed, but I'm very pessimistic right now.