Taxi Tehran (12a)
A road trip movie with a difference. Director Jafar Panahi faced house arrest and has been banned from film-making in his homeland. He also plays the central character and records the working day of a Tehran ‘shared’ taxi driver. You will enjoy his drives through the city, and meeting his passengers and the challenges they face.
Jafar Panahi | Iran| 2013 | 112 mins | 12a
‘Sight and Sound’ thought “Taxi Tehran’ “one of the best films of 2015”. Certainly the circumstances surrounding its making and distribution are a screen-play in themselves. In 2012 Jafar Panahi, a campaigner for Democracy, was arrested and tried for ‘crimes against the state’. Found guilty by the Iranian régime, he was placed under house arrest, threatened with imprisonment, forbidden to travel and banned from film-making. The director continued to work, however, and in 2012 produced a film entitled “This is not a film”, describing his life under house arrest while arguing with the authorities he was merely experimenting with home movies. The resulting film was smuggled to Cannes on a USB stick, hidden in a cake, to critical acclaim. It was subsequently awarded the Golden Bear at the Berlin film festival.
Panahi continued to work, shooting secretly with smart phones and camcorders, smuggling his work out of the country disguised as digital files, avoiding the régime’s ban by having the direction credited to others, or with no credits at all.
Tonight’s film is semi-autobiographical. The director plays himself as a former film-maker forced to scrape a living as a Tehran cab driver. The film, shot mainly in a vehicle with three hidden cameras, registers the ebb and flow of a cabby’s typical day in the city’s fume-filled streets, picking up a variety of passengers. Taxi-sharing is commonplace in Tehran, and the mixture of clientele, their opinions and predicaments, is a natural and often amusing, consequence. The hidden cameras bring the passengers (some actors, others real) to life; they are expertly managed and choreographed by the director. One character offers a rose to the camera (and thus to the world audience) and explains ‘because the people of cinema can be relied on”. CFS would say “Amen’ to that.
Weighted vote 75%