Fare Game

Having been banned by the Iranian government from making movies, acclaimed filmmaker Jafar Panahi circumvents his sentence (again) and goes the “found-footage” route – seriously – in his latest feature, Jafar Panahi’s Taxi.

The title refers as much to the film as Panahi’s new job, driving a taxi in Tehran. He has also installed a video camera in the front seat, ostensibly for “security” purposes but in actuality to capture a glimpse into the lives of the passengers and, thus, a glimpse into contemporary Iranian culture. Although Panahi is credited as writer and director, there are no other credits – which he points out at the end of the film.

There are some dramatic moments, such as when Panafi picks up an accident victim and rushes him and his hysterical wife to the hospital. There are some strange moments, some delightful moments (many courtesy of Panafi’s precocious niece Hana, whom he picks up from school), and a lot of moments-in-between. The film isn’t quite a documentary, but more along the lines of an experimental film.

Some passengers recognize Panahi, others do not – and some are quick to point out his inadequacies as a taxi driver. Indeed, he doesn’t seem entirely familiar with the streets he’s driving, and some of his fares never make it to their destination! How much of it is true is left for the audience to decide. (In Persian with English subtitles). !