“Taxi” (2015, Iran, Jafar Panahi)
Jafar Panahi’s 2015 film “Taxi” is a 2015 docufiction film that starred Jafar Panahi as himself. In 2010, Panahi was banned from distributing films for 20 years for spreading propaganda in his previous works, so he had to keep all of his 2011 and newer movies a top secret, starting with “This is Not a Film”. His films “This is Not a Film” and “Closed Curtain” were released while Panahi was under house arrest. During his house arrest, he was creative with his time by making “movies” where the Iranian government would not catch him breaking the probation. This film was the first release where Panahi was out in the Iranian community driving a taxi and transporting passengers around, where viewers learned a bit about Iranian everyday life, similar to American life.
The movie started off with Mr. Panahi driving around in a taxi where he first picked up a man and a woman who were having a conversation about capital punishment. The next major conversation was when two women with superstitious beliefs were transported to the spring. They needed to be there by 12 noon the latest because if they did not make it, they would die. The last 20 minutes of the movie was the most significant, where he picked up his niece from school and transported her around the area. His niece was about to make a short film for school, and her teacher gave the rules, but not super well. His niece briefly spoke about the rules about the cinematic media, where the information should be completely pro-Iranian culture, where they cannot show how government controls everyday life in Iran or any problem that is occurring in Iranian society. This situation is known in Iran as sordid realism. His niece’s teacher stated, “Show what’s real but not real, real” And “If reality is dark and unpleasant, not to show it” which made this film violate those laws as a result of Panahi sneaking in his message of how the Iranian government and religion are controlling and censor and prosecute people that are critical of them.
Panahi’s film was educational and informative because he was able to portray the social struggles that people faced in Iran. There was Panahi himself, the woman with the roses who was a human rights lawyer who was visiting someone on a hunger strike. This film premiered at The Berlin Film Festival where the film received the Golden Bear Award. Although this film won an award, it was impressive that his movies are becoming more mainstream, so people learn about Iran. in Iran, so Panahi can build up his hopes to have a brighter and better future. Additionally, the ending of this film was quite awkward where Panahi and his niece walked away from the car and then his camera was stolen as a final piece of everyday life. This was the final piece of sordid realism of the film.