Iranian director Jafar Panahi is banned from his profession for 20 years and cannot leave the country. He made his newest film, Berlinale winner TAXI TEHERAN as a taxi driver, with a dashboard camera. TAXI TEHERAN is an ode to the people of Teheran ...
The man in the passenger’s seat and the woman in the back don’t know each other but after only a minute of riding in the taxi together they get on the topics of the death penalty and Sharia law. The taxi driver sitting with them turns out to be Jafar Panahi, one of the most well-known contemporary Iranian directors (THE CIRCLE, OFFSIDE, CLOSED CURTAIN). Panahi has been barred from filmmaking and travelling for 20 years due to activity that was deemed anti-regime but that does not stop him from filming even in the most impossible circumstances. He shot most of the film with a small camera mounted on the dashboard of his car. Panahi plays himself and manages to exhibit the concrete experiences in present-day Iran while also meditating on film as such and the new, subversive power of digital-cameras and smartphones.
The restrictive circumstances the director had to contend with and the mere fact that he is still making films while managing to circumvent the regime and send it out to the world is meaningful enough. However, TAXI also happens to be aesthetically remarkable and cinematically brilliant. It's ingenious qualities earned Panahi the Golden Bear at the 65th Berlinale.
It is remarkable that TAXI manages to be such a light and joyful film despite the dire conditions it was made in. Panahi has found the perfect mise en scene in his car: he has full control of the situation. He manages to create an inverted self-monitoring system – the thing that serves to repress civilians and minimize their privacy becomes a tool for awareness and global solidarity.
The film includes multiple declarations of love. First, to the people of the city who are portrayed as incredibly open and lovely. Then, it is also a very personal homage to his 10 year old niece Hana. Her character underscores Panahi’s hopes for the next generation, as Hana really does want to become a filmmaker and received the Golden Bear in place of the director filled with happy tears. Lastly, TAXI is one of the most lovely declarations of love to the meaning and vitality of film and the passion and relevance of filmmaking. “I’m a filmmaker, I can’t do anything but make films,” Panahi explains. “I express myself with film, it is my life. Nothing will stop me from making films.” More empathetic proof than TAXI is hard to come by.
Translation: Elinor Lewy
- OV Original version
- OmU Original with German subtitles
- OmeU Original with English subtitles
ALLE ANGABEN OHNE GEWÄHR.
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