In “Taxi”, this year's Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, Iranian defiant director Jafar Panahi finds another way of working around a ban from making films – this time by posing as an unlikely cabbie. The 54-year-old is revered by art houses and film festivals, but his work is outlawed in Iran, where the government considers it subversive. Panahi was jailed in 2010 for “propaganda against the regime” and banned from making films for 20 years.
In theory, Panahi still has a six-year jail term to serve. But he is apparently free to roam around Tehran in his car, picking up fares as he goes along. Digital cameras mounted on the dashboard allow him to film the streets and his interactions with passengers, supposedly unseen by the authorities' prying eyes. The footage is interspersed with shots taken through an array of other mobile devices, in a clever portrayal of the power and ubiquity of video.
A light-hearted humour pervades the film, punctuated by sobering moments when tales of hardship and repression come to the fore. The gallery of passengers includes Panahi's feisty young niece, two pesky ladies carrying a goldfish in a bowl, a wailing woman with her bloodied husband fresh from a road accident and an unlicensed DVD peddler.
"Banned Iranian director Jafar Panahi takes to the streets of Tehran for another playful yet profound musing on the intersection of life and art."
"Amazingly, Panahi turns the utterly simple, economical format of a camera inside a car into something relevant to his own artistic state and full of eye-opening insights into Iranian society."
- HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
" Reflexive, intelligent, and provocative, to be sure, and has lots to say about Iranian society in general and the fine art of dissidence in particular, but it's also sort of a blast. "
- THE PLAYLIST
WINNER - GOLDEN BEAR AWARD – BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2015
OFFICIAL SELECTION - SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL 2015
OFFICIAL SELECTION - FRIBOURG INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2015