Taxi Tehran (12A)

Directed by Jafar Panahi
Picturehouse, Liverpool
30th October - 5th November 2015

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is a road movie with a difference! Set in the capital of Iran, Jafar Panahi, who is under a 20-year ban from directing films in his homeland, is seen, as himself, driving a taxi throughout most of the movie, picking up various passengers, who express strong views about the repressive Iranian regime.

It is presented as a series of vignettes illustrating the heavy handedness of the Iranian government and their overt censorship of many forms of film. Even the films of Woody Allen are banned from being shown in the country.

The filming inside the taxi is done via dashboard-mounted miniature videocams.

For example, two strangers, who are sharing the taxi, rant about the rights and wrongs of capital punishment in Iran.

You also see a human rights activist, who served three-years in jail, picked up by Panahi.

Earlier he arrives to collect his young niece who, like her uncle, is enamoured with film-making. She articulately explains to him the restrictions her school teacher, who is running the film lessons, imposes on the children. In fact no difference to what adult directors like Panahi are faced with.

They are not allowed to produce anything to do with 'sordid realism' - whatever that is meant to mean - as well as other barriers imposed to what they are not allowed to do in relation to creating films

The biggest surprise to me after watching the film, and reading other reviews of it, was that all the critics, like myself, did not realise that all the passengers, including his so-called young niece, are all played by non-professional actors, whose identities remain anonymous.

This revelation lessened the impact for me of the points made. Basically all the 'passengers' were all mouthpieces, in one way or another, of Panahi's views, however valid they may be.

As for the actors remaining anonymous, how can they be when you can see their faces and hear their voices in the film!

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