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Movies of necessity

3 women (See rokh)
Regissør: Jafar Panahi
(Iran )

PROHIBITION PROHIBITION / Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi continues to make films with more and more room for maneuver, despite being sentenced to both occupational and exit bans.


Da Jafar Panahi feature film The white balloon won the award for best debut film – Caméra d'Or – at the Cannes Film Festival in 1995, it was the first time an Iranian film was awarded one of the festival's most important awards. Since then, Panahi has been among the foremost filmmakers in Iran – which has long characterized itself as a strong film nation.

This is despite the fact that Iranian film has been subject to extensive state censorship ever since before the revolution in 1979. Panahi has been arrested several times, and in 2010 was sentenced to an occupational ban for the entire 20 year – as well as an outlaw ban.

The film is strongly characterized by being made out of necessity – and hardly without personal risk to those involved.

However, the ban has not stopped him from making films, which he gets smuggled out of the country and shown at the world's biggest and most prestigious festivals. The premieres 3 kvinner (with international title 3 Faces) is the director's fourth feature film since he was placed under a professional ban. These also include the documentary This is Not a Movie – a title that ironically comments on the punishment – and Taxi Tehran, who won the main prize Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2015. For obvious reasons, Panahi could not even attend to receive the prize, as he could not attend the Cannes festival then 3 kvinner was shown in last year's main competition. There it was awarded with the award for best manuscript.

Travel to the countryside

3 kvinner begins with a video that a girl has taken of herself on her mobile phone, where she tells about her dream of becoming an actress. She has even entered the acting academy in Tehran, but her family has opposed this. The video is directed at the famous Iranian actress Behnaz Jafari, who the desperate girl claims has never answered her repeated inquiries. Then it ends very dramatically with her possibly taking her own life.

The next scene shows Jafari in a car with filmmaker Panahi, who both play themselves in the film. Panahi has received the video and then sought out Jafari during a movie recording. She then decided to join him to the little village the girl comes from, to find out if it really is a suicide they have witnessed. The scene is filmed in the original way in one shot, where the camera is constantly in the car – even when the characters move out of it.

meta Fiction

3 kvinner has several similarities to Panahi's previous film Taxi Tehran, which was filmed in its entirety with a small camera placed inside a car, as well as occasional footage with cell phones and the like. The new film is also a metaphor, where the director himself plays a central role in front of the camera. Again with the same gentle appearance as last, even when the drama of single scenes is at its most intense.

3 women take the form of a "road movie" to the mountain areas in
northwestern Iran.

But there Taxi Tehran was a kind of fragmented study of the Iranian capital and its inhabitants, Ta 3 kvinner in the form of a road movie to the mountainous areas of northwestern Iran. With this, the film paints a portrait of the more rural side of the country, and a culture that contrasts with the environment and mentality of the two urban cultural personalities Panahi and Jafari.

3 women (See rokh) Director Jafar Panahi Iran

During the four feature films Panahi has made so far under the ban, he has gradually allowed the action to unfold over larger areas. The first two films This is Not a Movie og Closed Curtains was filmed in secret in the director's apartment and house by the sea respectively. Taxi Tehran was, as mentioned, filmed from within a car, where Panahi himself was a kind of pirate taxi driver driving around Tehran in search of stories. While 3 kvinner thus, the step – or rather the drive – takes off in the Iranian countryside.

The position of women

The new film is also cinematically freer than its predecessor, and does not bind to a similar concept of filming only from within the car. With this, it is also more conventional in expression. Again, the metafictional approach plays on documentary elements, though 3 kvinner still feels like a cleaner fiction movie than Taxi Tehran. The film may have certain associations with Abbas Kiarostamis The taste of cherry – and can thus probably be regarded as a salute to the late Iranian filmmaker, for whom Panahi was the director's assistant before he even debuted feature films. Admittedly, I miss more of the playful humor and light tone Taxi Tehran, which was in stark contrast to the sometimes very serious issues. At the same time 3 kvinner more focused in their theme, where the focus is mainly on the position of women in traditional Iranian society. It is both impressive and inspiring to see that Panahi is constantly giving himself greater room for movement in these films. Also 3 kvinner carries a strong impression of being made out of necessity – and hardly without personal risk to those involved. But one can also hope that the films can act as a form of insurance, as the international film community's attention will possibly make the country's authorities more reluctant to impose sanctions.

Although not as prominent this time, the director here also takes up his own professional ban. IN 3 kvinner this is done primarily through a telephone conversation with the mother – where he assures her that he does not make films. But we should be grateful that he does.

3 kvinner has Norwegian cinema premiere June 7.

Aleksander Huser
Aleksander Huser
Huser is a regular film critic in Ny Tid.

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