Taxi. 2015. Iran. Directed by Jafar Panahi. 94 min.
In a year in which Iran dominated headlines, the country's best-known cinematic dissenter offers his third film since the Islamic Republic banned him from movie-making in 2010. Equipped with a dash-cam and posing as a taxi driver, Panahi took to the streets of Tehran, his conversations with a series of passengers creating a microcosm of Iranian society. Within the confines of the car, Panahi dives into a self-referential exposition on the government's censorship, surveillance, and imprisonment of its citizens. His niece, a schoolgirl tasked with directing a film for class, is a consummate satirist in her struggles to understand what constitutes the "sordid realism" banned by the regime. Taxi is both an act of civil disobedience and a tragicomedy, with references to other films offering a certain levity—an incident with goldfish is a callback to the director's own The White Balloon and the dramatic premise recalls Abbas Kiarostami's Ten). Ultimately, the cinematic image affirms its determination to exist to against all odds. Courtesy of Kino Lorber.