The survivor spirit is alive and well and living in Tehran. Despite being banned from making films by the Iranian regime, Jafar Pahani has responded by becoming more prolific. Celebrated for the spellbinding Offside and The Circle before the restrictions, he’s now releasing his third film, Taxi Tehran, since the interdiction came into place. Hot on the heels of This is not a Film and Closed Curtain, it sees the likeable director expanding his horizons.
Tehran finds Pahani as a temporary taxi driver. Armed with three secret cameras he travels around the capital picking up ‘random’ fares along the way. These include a couple on the way to return goldfish to a spring, a pirate DVD seller, a human rights campaigner, a badly injured man, a ‘mugger’ who waxes lyrical about hanging thieves and his seven year-old niece. The most dangerous character may just be Pahani himself, whose driving skills leave a lot to be admired.
There’s never any confirmation but it’s pretty obvious that the whole film is staged. There’s also no credits which is a swipe at the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance who only approve credits for distributable films. Indeed, the whole of Taxi Tehran is cleverly conceived to address many of the social issues that effect Iran today, from Sharia Law to human rights violations. Once again Pahani has managed to make an entertaining, informative and interesting film right under the noses of authoritarian rule.
Taxi Tehran is released on DVD and Blu-ray by New Wave Films on Monday.