Film Director Defies Ban, Film Wins Golden Bear At Berlin Film Festival

Iranian film director Jafar Panahi is banned by authorities in his country from making movies and traveling abroad, but that doesn’t stop Panahi from making award-winning films. Panahi’s latest released film, Taxi, received the highest award at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival on Saturday, the Golden Bear.

Since he is banned from filming in his country, Panahi had to use some ingenuity to make the film. It was shot completely in a taxi cab with the director doubling as the film’s star, who is the cab’s driver that picks up odd customers in the city of Tehran.

As Yahoo! News reported, his niece Hana, who was also in the film, received the award because he isn’t allowed to travel out Iran. When she received the award, she broke down in tears because she was “too moved” to speak. French actress and a member of the festival’s jury, Audrey Tatou, comforted her.

By giving the award to Panahi, who has been described as the “Iranian Woody Allen,” the film festival made a statement in favor of freedom of speech and artistic expression. The Berlin Film Festival has always been seen as being more politically-driven with their awards than any of the other major film festivals in the world.

The jury president for the festival, Darren Aronofsky, who directed Black Swan, said Panahi’s film demonstrated the love for his craft.

“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.”

As explained by The Hollywood Reporter, Panahi has won two other awards from the Berlin festival. In 2013, he won a Silver Bear for his screenplay, Closed Curtain, another film he made in secret. He also won the Silver Bear, which was the runner-up Grand Jury prize, in 2006 for his film, Offside.

Unlike most awards, such as the Oscars, film festival awards are voted on by a jury of panelists. As reported by the Inquisitr, ballots to determine the final nominees are sent out to about 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to determine nominees to receive an Oscar. When the ballots are returned, their votes are then tabulated to come up with the number of nominees in each category.

The Oscar nominations drew criticism this year because most, if not all, of the nominees for the major awards are white. However, it is hard to claim racism when so many members of the Academy vote to determine the nominees.

[Image via La Regle Du Jeu]