Saturday, September 19, 2015

TIFF 2015: Jafar Panahi's Taxi

Jafar Panahi's Taxi is the latest offering from the eponymous Iranian filmaker who, since 2010 has been under house arrest and banned from making films for his crimes of "propaganda against the Islamic republic". However he keeps making films, including This is Not a Film (shot entirely in his apartment) and this one, shot from within a taxi roaming the streets of Tehran. We meet a variety of characters who come into the cab, and we quickly come to understand that, even in a society that tries very hard to control what its citizens say and do (and perhaps think), people are the same everywhere. I was particularly struck by the strong female characters in a country where I expect women to be discouraged from expressing themselves openly. Panahi's young niece, herself an aspiring filmmaker, is an especially endearing character. As he listens to his passengers while weaving through the city (without the expected cartographic knowledge of a real taxi driver), Panahi wears a sly smile that seems to be breaking the fourth wall to say "See, I don't even need a script; this shit writes itself!". I assume it was scripted, but it all comes off so naturally that you can believe he is just capturing a slice of life that endears you to the people of Iran while showing up the authorities. (In Farsi with English subtitles.)

TIFF Overview

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