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Jafar Panahi's Taxi wins Golden Bear at Berlin


Story by Jack Foley

IRANIAN director Jafar Panahi’s Taxi, has won the coveted Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival (2015).

The movie allows the filmmaker to share his thoughts on contemporary Tehran as he drives a yellow taxi, using a mounted dashboard camera to evade the scrutiny of the Iranian authorities.

In arriving at their decision, the jury praised the way in which Panahi had made a film that was so honest and eye-opening despite being restricted by strict laws within the country that currently prohibit him from making a movie.

Indeed, Taxi marks Panahi’s third completed feature since he was slapped with an official filmmaking ban in 2010.

US director Darren Aronofsky, who headed this year’s Berlin jury, explained: “Limitations often inspire filmmakers to storytellers to make better work, but sometimes those limitations can be so suffocating they destroy a project and often damage the soul of the artist.

“Instead of allowing his spirit to be crushed and giving up, instead of allowing himself to be filled with anger and frustration, Jafar Panahi created a love letter to cinema.

“His film is filled with love for his art, his community, his country and his audience.”

Taxi was one of 19 films vying for this year’s top prize at Berlin. Other notable contenders included Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert, starring Nicole Kidman as Gertrude Bell and Robert Pattinson as TE Lawrence.

Other notable winners on the night included El Club, which took the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize. The movie was made by Chilean director Pablo Larraín.

In the acting categories, British stars Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling nabbed the top two prizes for their performances in 45 Years, a film about a marriage unravelling on the eve of the couple’s 45th wedding anniversary.

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