This highly-deserving winner of the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival is a playful, life-affirming tribute to the “real” people of Iran, warts and all, and simultaneously a gleeful act of protest against political censorship.
A yellow cab is driving through the vibrant and colorful streets of Tehran. Very diverse passengers flag it down in real-time, and immediately slip into a world of free expression – talking about Sharia law, superstition and Iran’s strict filmmaking code – in conversation with the driver, who transpires to be none other than renowned Iranian director Jafar Panahi.
In 2010, Panahi received a twenty-year ban on filmmaking and an unspecified sentence of house arrest (now lightly observed), for bringing Iran into disrepute. But the filmmaker does not give in easy: Taxi is arguably the third film he has made under sanction – or maybe, after all, just the innocent recordings of a security camera that happens to capture real-life fun and games.
Panahi’s defiance is not simply making films while banned, but refusing to hide the everyday face and debates of Iran. And he may just have won.
Fantastic technical execution and performances in the best of circumstances: extraordinary when you consider Panahi’s political status.
Entertaining / Gripping
Funny, tense, fascinating and politically charged without ever dropping its smile.