After his arrest in 2010 for spreading propaganda, the Iranian government ruled that filmmaker Jafar Panahi was banned from making films until 2030. Like any great filmmaker, Panahi refused to be oppressed and went on to make This is not a Film and Closed Curtain in secret. For his latest effort Taxi, Panahi disguises himself as a cabdriver, using a small camera attached to the dashboard to make his film.
This blend of documentary and fiction features Panahi playing himself, playing a cab driver. Through a single day Panahi hosts various passengers each providing humor, distress, or voicing their opinions on the Iranian government. One sequence features Panahi driving his niece home from school. The young girl describes a film project she was assigned at school, going into detail about what is and is not “screenable”. The list of don’ts describes nearly everything Panahi is trying to do in his films, reminding us why he is one of the most important filmmakers working today.
Taxi is definitely Panahi’s most accessible film to date. Even those unfamiliar with his work and Iranian film politics will enjoy the often hilariously absurd passengers that board Panahi’s taxi. Just as its humour overwhelms, the film turns, reminding viewers of the difficulties faced by Iranian filmmakers. While it takes Panahi a fair amount of time to reveal his intentions, the ride there is a hell of a good time.