Sydney Film Festival Reviewed

We reviewed some of the most buzzed films at this year's festival, including 'Dope', 'Ruben Guthrie', 'Gayby Baby' and 'Holding The Man'. Many were excellent. Some were not.

The Film That Will Make You Fist-Pump Your Way Out Of The Cinema:


Tehran Taxi, dir. Jafar Panahi

Starring: Jafar Panahi

Reviewed by: Dee Jefferson

Banned from filmmaking in his native Iran, veteran writer-director Jafar Panahi has nonetheless delivered this red rose for the people of cinema, a deceptively simple slice of verite that is in fact an artfully crafted microcosm.

The majority of Tehran Taxi is shot on dashboard-mounted cameras in a taxi driven by Panahi, posing as a driver; the remaining footage is taken from a simple digital point-and-shoot wielded by Panahi’s precocious nine-year-old niece, ostensibly as part of a school project. Panahi’s footage of the comings and goings – and goings on – of his passengers (a thief; a teacher; a peddler of pirated films; an injured man and his hysterical wife; a human rights lawyer) is juxtaposed with his niece’s exercise in making a short film within the Government-sanctioned code of practice, which covers everything from what characters should wear and do but also what they should be named, and what outcomes their behaviour should lead to in the cinematic universe. Sound ridiculous? To an Australian audience, yes. To a little girl in Iran, just slightly bemusing.

Through his tiny sidekick (as charismatic as his child actors in The Mirror and The Circle), Panahi lampoons his censors, gently, while simultaneously demonstrating that life – IRL, or on screen – cannot be contained. It will bust out, it will grow in unexpected directions. Great stories will continue to sprout. This is an optimistic vision for the future of storytelling in Iran – whatever may come.

For fans of: New Iranian cinema, international current affairs, positive tales with a social justice message.

Opening in Australia: TBC

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