Iranian Neo-Realism

Taxi

taxi

Director: Jafar Panahi

Spoiler Alert Valid until date of Commercial Release

One of the delights of the 36th Durban International Film Festival DIFF was watching the short but powerful Iranian film, Taxi, directed by Jafar Panahi shot entirely on the streets of Tehran, which incidentally won the Golden Bear at the 2015 Bernlinale, otherwise known as the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival.

Using the Italian Neo-Realist model of such directors as Vittorio di Sica (The Bicycle Thief), Panahi shows a slice of a forbidden and reclusive society through the lives of ordinary citizens in Tehran, Iran. Using a mixture of hand-held footage and cellphone footage director Jafar Panahi does a brilliantly job of showcasing the Iranian citizens as normal, sometimes comical and often repressed population trying to survive in a society which is very rigid and also economically restricted by Western sanctions.

From the hilarious conversations that Panahi has with one of his passengers in his taxi who pedals pirated DVDs including Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris to a couple of elderly woman carrying goldfish in a bowl whom then have to release into spring at noon.

Jafar Panahi using real characters to highlight the exciting and often ordinary daily lives of the Tehran citizens who also have to deal with economic and social issues like crime, informants and the threat of being imprisoned. Taxi is a fascinating slice of life or cinema verite into a world which Westerners seldom see or can even relate to, that of contemporary Tehran in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country which since 1980 has basically had sanctions imposed upon them by America and its allies.

Director Jafar Panahi shows Tehran as a vibrant city, whose citizens constantly live in a state of uncertainty about whether crime or the state police will restrict their already limited freedoms. Taxi only showed what potential Iranian cinema has to offer on the future now that there seems to be an international easing of sanctions against the country. Recommended viewing to all those who manage to see this extraordinary film.

 

 

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