Hundreds of Iranians attended a candlelit ceremony Tuesday to mourn the death of film director Abbas Kiarostami, who died at the age of 76 after a career spanning more than four decades.

President Hassan Rouhani said on Twitter that the director's "different and deep attitude toward life and invitation to peace and friendship" would be a "lasting achievement."

He referred to Kiarostami by his first name, a sign of closeness in Iranian culture.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Kiarostami's death was a loss for international cinema, and referred to him as "Ostad," a term of respect rarely used by political leaders when referring to artists.


Kiarostami, seen at the Cartagena Film Festival in 2014, 'reflected my life and those of many others like me in his films,' said one mourner who travelled a long distance to pay her respects. (Joaquin Sarmiento/AFP/Getty Images)

Iranian artists and other celebrities expressed condolences, including fellow director Asghar Farhadi, who won Iran's first Oscar for A Separation in 2012.

"His death is not believable and I already miss his expressions," Farhadi said, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

On Tuesday night hundreds of Iranians, including many artists, gathered in Tehran Cinema Museum to light candles beneath large portraits of him.

Neda Samadi said she flew all the way to Tehran from Bandar Abbas, some 1,250 km south of Tehran, to pay her respects.

"Kiarostami reflected my life and those of many others like me in his films," she said.


Oscar-winning Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi, seen signing a book, takes part in a tribute to his late colleague Abbas Kiarostami at Tehran's Museum of Cinema on Tuesday. 'His death is not believable and I already miss his expressions,' Farhadi said. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

Kiarostami wrote and directed dozens of films. His 1997 film Taste of Cherry won the prestigious Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. He died in Paris, where he was undergoing treatment for cancer.

Kiarostami's body will be flown back to Iran next week for the funeral.