Team Experience is counting down our 15 most anticipated for 2015. Here's Amir...
Who & What: Politically troubled Iranian auteur, Jafar Panahi, returns with his third film in four years. Any other director would be considered prolific with numbers like that, but consider that Panahi has managed it despite being under an official, though increasingly lenient, ban on filmmaking. His latest film, a realist comedy set in the confines of his car, stars him as a taxi driver whose interactions with his passengers form the narrative. It won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, making him the only Iranian filmmaker with two top prizes from the big three festivals – the first was Venice’s Golden Lion for The Circle.
Why We’re Excited About It: Panahi has been cranking out masterpieces with such regularity that his inventive, powerful cinema is often taken for granted, especially since his political situation pushed discussions about his films to the background. His insightful, heartfelt and often humorous social studies are some of the best films of the past two decades and Taxi seems to be a return to his earlier interests, after a couple of self-reflexive experiments. The reviews from Berlinale showered the film with unanimous praise, and coming off the best film of his career, Closed Curtain, Panahi continues to work at his very peak. (Nick Davis discussed that film and Panahi’s earlier work with me at length on the Hello Cinema podcast.)
What If It All Goes Wrong: Before the film had its premiere, my only fear was whether the car setup of the film would read as gimmicky or become tiresome. Reviews suggest those fears were baseless. Otherwise, I don’t see how this can go wrong.
When: Specialty arthouse distributor, Kino Lorber, has acquired the North American rights. Whether they want to build renewed momentum in the fall festival circuit or capitalize on the film’s Berlin win earlier in the summer isn’t yet clear.