Jafar Panahi, who has made three movies since he was banned from film-making for 20 years by Iranian courts, won the top prize at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.
Taxi, the newest film by renowned Iranian film director Jafar Panahi, won the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear on February 15. Audiences and critics lauded Panahi’s work, which has already received numerous awards from other well-known international film festivals. This in itself could be normal news, no different than that of hundreds of films entering dozens of festivals around the world. What distinguishes Taxi is that an Iranian court prohibited Panahi from making movies for twenty years, after he tried to make a documentary about the 2009 Green Movement. Nevertheless Parani, using minimal resources, has made three movies since the ruling: This is Not a Film, Closed Curtain, and now Taxi.
- “Enemy…terrorism…nuclear bomb…war.” These words are often used by American media to describe Iran. The image the media presents is often hazy, incomplete, and distorted. The political and military aspects of my country are covered mainly in a negative light.
- In Under Eastern Eyes (I have adopted the name from the novel Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad), I will write about those topics which American media either cannot or does not want to talk about. The emphasis will be on social and cultural aspects of Iran although, out of necessity, I will talk about politics, despite my despair.
- Yaghoub Yadali, born in 1970, is a writer and television director. His first work of fiction, the short-story collection Sketches in the Garden, was published in 1997. It was followed in 2001 by Probability of Merriment and Mooning, which was named book of the year by the Writers and Critics Award. His first novel, The Rituals of Restlessness, won the 2004 Golshiri Foundation Award for the best novel of the year and was named as one of the ten best novels of the decade by the Press Critics Award. He has also published many articles and reviews of literature and cinema in newspapers and magazines in Iran.
Mojtaba Mirtahmaseb assisted Panahi in making 2011’s This Is Not a Film. Instead of a camera, an iPhone tells the story of a day in Panahi’s life after his conviction by the court. In 2012, This is Not a Film was one of fifteen movies nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards.
In 2013, Closed Curtain won Best Script at the Berlin Film Festival. Made with the help of Kambuzia Partoui, and filmed with Jafar Panahi’s digital camera, it is the story of an unnamed screenwriter who smuggles his pet dog and goes to a villa in northern Iran.
Taxi, Panahi’s latest work, takes place completely in a cab, and is filmed with the use of a mounted dashboard camera. Panahi himself appears as the taxi driver, the film’s main role. As he drives through Tehran, he and his passengers share their thoughts on contemporary Iran.
Artists like Jafar Panahi, who continues to create in the harshest circumstances, are worthy of much encouragement and respect.