When you are used to viewing Iran through the lens of nuclear programs, religious extremism, and sponsorship of terrorist groups, even a two-minute movie trailer can help recalibrate your sense the place. Five years after seeing, the Tehran-based drama A Separation, that film still lingers with me, and although this is a different genre, Tehran Taxi looks equally memorable:
Tehran Taxi won the highest prize at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival, but director Jafar Panahi could not personally receive the award because he is banned from leaving Iran. From the Wikipedia page:
(Tehran Taxi) has been described as "a portrait of the Iranian capital Tehran" and as a "documentary-like film is set in a Tehran taxi that is driven by Panahi"... the passengers include "Men and women, young and old, rich and poor, traditionalists and modernists, pirated video vendors, and advocates of human rights, [who sit] in the passenger seat..." The passengers are played by non-professional actors, whose identities remain anonymous.
Like his previous two films This Is Not a Film and Closed Curtain, the film was made despite Panahi's 20-year ban from making films. His previous two films had been shot in extreme secrecy in Panahi's apartment and in a private house. In this film Panahi filmed out in the open on the streets of Tehran.
Shortly after the film's premiere at Berlin was announced, Panahi released an official statement in which he promised to continue making films despite the ban and said "Nothing can prevent me from making films since when being pushed to the ultimate corners I connect with my inner-self and, in such private spaces, despite all limitations, the necessity to create becomes even more of an urge."