Jafar Panahi – Taxi AKA Taxi Teheran (2015)


Jafar Panahi is banned from making movies by the Iranian government, he poses as a taxi driver and makes a movie about social challenges in Iran. (IMDb)

One can wonder how is it possible that the Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who was sentenced by the authoritarian regime of his country to 20 years without making cinema, still manages to direct clandestine masterpieces with a disarming simplicity, emotional truthfulness, social-political awareness, and delightfully humorous situations. Well, my theory is the following: if you really love what you do and have something to say, there’s nothing that can stop you. After his professional banishment, Panahi has directed critically acclaimed films that mix reality and fiction, thoroughly mirroring what he was experiencing at each of those well-defined time slots of his existence. Continue reading

Jafar Panahi – Talaye sorkh AKA Crimson Gold (2003)


Synopsis :
A murder and a suicide occur early one morning in a jewelry store. Behind this headline lies the story of a desperate man’s feelings of humiliation in a world of social injustice …
When his friend Ali shows him the contents of a lost purse, Hussein cannot imagine the large sum of money marked on a receipt for an expensive necklace. He knows that his pitiful salary will never be enough to afford such luxury. Hussein feels even lower on the social scale when a smooth-talking professional thief mistakes the two friends for petty crooks. Hussein receives yet another blow when he and Ali are denied entry to an uptown jewelry store because of their appearance.
Hussein’s job delivering pizzas allows him a full view of the contrast between rich and poor. He motorbikes every evening to neighborhoods he will never live in for a closer look at what goes on behind closed doors. The hypocrisy of the system is thrown in his face wherever he turns.
But Hussein will taste the luxurious life for one night before his deep feelings of humiliation push him over the edge. Continue reading

Jafar Panahi – Badkonake Sefid aka The White Balloon (1995)


This extraordinary debut feature, about a 7-year-old’s first journey alone into the streets of Tehran, is a movie of audacious subtlety and simplicity, and a deserving Cannes prize-winner. It takes place in ‘real time’, the 84 minutes leading to New Year (March 21), as little Razieh (Aïda Mohammadkhani) goes off to purchase, with her mother’s last 500 toman, the ‘chubby’ gold-fish that has taken her fancy. Along the way, she encounters snake-charmers, irate shopkeepers, a country-born soldier, a young Afghan boy with a white balloon – a whole world hitherto ‘forbidden’. Scripted in collaboration with leading Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, this is a film of small incident, minute, telling observations, and enormous heart and intelligence. Tethering the movie to the child’s point of view (both literal and metaphorical), Panahi absorbs us so entirely into his heroine’s delicate, enquiring world, that the loss of her money and her separation from her brother create an atmosphere of suspense as gripping as that of any Hitchcock thriller. Moreover, suggestive intimations of the troubled adult world – the mother’s anxiety in the bazaar, the lonely ‘outsiders’ – combine to produce a feeling of almost metaphysical tension.
– Source : Time Out Film Guide 13 Continue reading

Jafar Panahi – Dayereh AKA The Circle (2000)


Nobody Here but Us

Rating: * * * * Masterpiece

Last month I was taken aback by an E-mail from a colleague that said, “I thought, as an apparent defender of the Islamic Republic of Iran, that you should read this.” Before I accessed the link — an AP story about a woman stoned to death by court order for appearing in porn movies — I wrote back to say I was insulted by the implication that my regarding Iranians as human beings meant I supported a totalitarian regime. He promptly sent back an apology, but added, “It’s just that sometimes it sounds as if you regard their regime as `better’ than ours. Perhaps I’m misreading you.” Continue reading