It's been months since Jafar Panahi, stuck in jail, has been awaiting a verdict by the appeals court. By depicting a day in his life, Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb try to portray the deprivations looming in contemporary Iranian cinema.
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Mina Mohammad Khani,
Three actresses at different stages of their career. One from before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, one popular star of today known throughout the country and a young girl longing to attend a drama conservatory.
When you are a filmmaker and you are not allowed to direct movies any more, you have to retrain. So why not become a taxi driver? Or better, why not pretend you are a taxi driver and make a film despite everything? This is what Jafar Panahi has done. Now he invites you to get into his cab for the price of a cinema ticket, to ride through the streets of Tehran and discover its people in the persons of his various passengers.Written by
Very interesting and intriguing. Let me explain why so.
The difficult Kafkaesque conditions in Iran are very real. I have visited Iran and therefore I have seen it all firsthand. Everything in the movie is real. My heart goes out to the people of Iran where the best works of Iranian cinema are banned. My favourite Iranian film "Bitter Dreams," a debut film by Mohsen Amiryoussefi, was banned within months of it being shown in the Cannes film festival and most cineastes are not even aware of its existence.
Panahi is different. He makes good films. He claims he is hounded by the authorities but yet makes films, one after the other, openly in the streets of Teheran. It cannot be that he has done it without people noticing his filming.
Now "Taxi" is a laudable work--including the discussion of males wearing ties in public (I have not spotted a single Iranian male wearing a necktie in Teheran, but two people in "Taxi' wear ties, Panahi's friend and the bridegroom), a top human rights lawyer Nasrin Satoudeh (the flower woman) talking of prisons as "Paradise" after she herself endured time in the notorious Evin prison, mention of public hangings for petty offences by financially stressed folks, pirated film CDs sold in the streets, mention of Panahi being interrogated in prison blindfolded and his search for that man by trying to identify him by his voice--all laudable, realistic cinema.
Or is it? Panahi is afraid two women with a fishbowl will wet his backseat. When the fishbowl breaks, he is not concerned about the water or the broken glass. The camera angles of the sequence with him helping the ladies save the fish could not have been taken from the dashboard camera. Evidently there were more cameras used than we are expected to believe.
I have actually shook hands with the director in my city when he was chairing a film jury. He appeared sullen and unfriendly. In the movie "Taxi" you see a charming, smiling and friendly Panahi. Which is the real Panahi? In my view, the film deserved the Best Actor award at Berlin rather than Best Film.
As in Panahi's "The circle", the subject of his cinema is totally laudable in "Taxi." Is there an implicit collusion between Panahi and the Iranian authorities? How much of "Taxi" is spontaneous? Probably very little.
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