Opening 27 Dec 2018
Director Jafar Panahi and actress Behnaz Jafari play themselves in a road movie, which requires close-ups of them sitting in a car. Jafari has received a mysterious video in which a young girl, Maedeh (Maedeh Erteghael), pleads for help. Supposedly, she is attending a Tehran drama school. But is she committing suicide? Hanging from a tree? Or is this an enacted school drama? Panahi and Jafari jump into the car and use up the rest of the film’s 100 minutes to converse, talk with people along the way (often in Turkish, since this is the language of the area) and show us beautiful Iranian landscapes. The best scenes portray typical Iranian customs. For example, we learn that it is dishonorable for a young girl to strive for an acting career. Or a young boy enrolled in university first cuts off his foreskin, which is then buried on the university campus to ensure that he become successful in his studies. The university campus gardens are full of foreskins of young men, who strive to become doctors or engineers.
The film 3 Faces showed at the 2018 Filmfest Hamburg, where Panahi was honored with the festival’s 2018 Douglas Sirk Prize. Panahi is probably Iran’s most successful film director, having won festival prizes in Berlin (Taxi), Locarno (The Mirror), and Venice (The Circle). Presently his creative efforts are hindered by restraining government decisions which forbid him to leave Iran, as well as being prohibited to make films in general, something which he has successfully worked around, as proven in this newest production. The Douglas Sirk Prize has been awarded every year since 1995, when it went to Clint Eastwood. Since then other talented filmmakers such as Jim Jarmusch (1999), Isabelle Huppert (2003), and Tilde Swinton (2013 have been honored. Panahi received the award for his life’s work since 1995, when he first gained recognition with The White Balloon. Because Panahi could not leave his native country, Iran, his daughter Solmaz Panahi came in from her home in Paris to accept the prize for him, accompanied by actress Behnaz Jafari. He thanked the audience via videotape. (Becky Tan)