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Following a personally difficult but artistically rewarding spell making films under house arrest, Jafar Panahi is back on the streets of Tehran.
Director: Jafar Panahi
But inspired by the limitations of his incarceration, he continues the use of confined settings by locating his film entirely inside a taxi-cab, in a formal structure that references 10, another classic of Iranian cinema from Panahi’s old associate Abbas Kiarostami.
After giving rides around Tehran to a motley array of passengers – from a rabid reactionary and a liberal teacher to a man selling pirate DVDs and women heading to a shrine – he finally collects his niece, a sassy youngster making a little movie herself for school. Cue a discussion of how film should represent reality (or not!): a subject clearly close to Panahi’s heart, given his standing with the Iranian authorities. Despite its concern with ethics, aesthetics and politics, the film oozes disarming charm and mischievous wit, slyly reminding us that cinema, for better or worse, always trades in illusion.