Jafar Panahi is a badass Iranian film director, screenwriter and film editor. Wikipedia tells me, after several years of making short films and working as an assistant director, Panahi achieved international recognition with his film, The White Balloon (1995), which I am yet to see and which won the first major award won by an Iranian film at Cannes. Nice one Panahi, way to represent!
This accomplishment alongside his later films constructed Panahi as one of the most influential film-makers in Iran. And Although his works were often banned in his own country, Panahi continued to receive international acclaim.
However; in 2010, after several years of conflict with the Iranian government over the content of his films (including several short-term arrests), Panahi, his wife, daughter and 15 friends were arrested. Panahi was sentenced to a six-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on directing any movies, writing screenplays, giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media, or from leaving the country except for medical treatment or making the Hajj pilgrimage. While awaiting the result of an appeal he made This Is Not a Film (2011), a documentary feature in the form of a video diary in spite of the legal ramifications of his arrest. It was smuggled out of Iran in a flash drive hidden inside a cake and shown at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival the same year. In a cake! Need I even continue?
Panahi’s new film Taxi premiered in competition at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2015 and won Golden Bear, the prize awarded for the best film in the festival.
If these facts alone haven’t got you dying to see his films/this film. Let me assure you that Taxi is great. It is so beautifully balanced; strong, strange, serious yet at the same time, subtle and humorous. Taxi excels at what good art does best. It delivers important ideas with modesty and laughter.
Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed the little girl’s performance. Her sharp chatty manner is not uncommon of a young Iranian girl. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing one, no doubt you would’ve found yourself at one point or another, blocking your ears or shutting off your brain! My mother often recalls memories of my own sister speaking too fast and too much in such an adult-like manner at such a young age and being shhhed on public transport by the old and impatient.
Go see it. So totally worth it.