Director: Jafar Panahi
Country of origin: Iran
Release year: 2015
Runtime: 82 min.

Starring: Jafar Panahi, Hana Saeidi
Awards: Berlinale - Golden Bear, FIPRESCI Prize
At first glance the film looks a bit like Jim Jarmusch’s "Night on Earth" - the story is set in a taxi. A whole spectrum of extremely interesting walk-on part characters can be seen in the taxi's rear seats. The taxi driver talks with all of them (unlike in Jarmusch’s movie where there were several drivers). But the Iranian creator’s idea is not just to amuse the viewer with a mosaic of more or less typical passengers. "Taxi Tehran" is Jafar Panahi’s another strong statement on censorship, which is raging in his home country. This problem is not without significance to the director himself. After all, Panahi himself cannot make movies in Iran.

In 2010, the director was sentenced by the Iranian authorities to 6 years in prison. He could not make films, write scripts and even give interviews. The artist was accused of inciting opposition protests and making movies without the consent of the Iranian government. But Panahi constantly breaks bans. He sent his movie "This is not a film"  to Cannes on a USB stick, "Closed Curtain", on the other hand, got out of the country via Skype. It is not so easy anymore to forbid someone to make films, or to block access to modern media of communication including the internet, which as a matter of fact is also used as a propaganda tool by the Iranian regime.

In "Taxi Tehran" Panahi sets the camera on the dashboard of the car in which he travels around Tehran. The driver is a very particular one; he gets lost in almost every ride, but he does not charge his passengers any money in return. He talks with a woman, transporting her wounded husband to the hospital, then with an underground distributor of illegal movies, a thief, a teacher... The stories told by the passengers make up an incredibly candid picture of the Iranian society, lost and confused in a country full of orders and bans, where everyone must be careful not to get within the view of the authorities’ watchful eye. The film is not really a documentary. The passengers of Panahi’s taxi are in fact members of his family, friends and actors, playing characters from his previous films.

It is one of the most important and most original films of recent years, the artist’s act of insubordination against the authorities who try to control him. At the same time it is a proof that art cannot be squeezed into political grinding wheels, even in a country oppressed by an authoritarian regime like Iran, where "Taxi Tehran", the winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlinale and a movie in which the local cinema can take pride may not be legally shown.

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