Jafar Panâhi (Persian: جعفر پناهی, [d͡ʒæˈfæɾ pæˈnɒːhiː]; born 11 July 1960) is an Iranian film director, screenwriter, and film editor, commonly associated with the Iranian New Wave film movement. After several years of making short films and working as an assistant director for fellow Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, Panahi achieved international recognition with his feature film debut, The White Balloon (1995). The film won the Caméra d'Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, the first major award an Iranian film won at Cannes. Panahi was quickly recognized as one of Iran's most influential filmmakers. His films were often banned in Iran, but he continued to receive international acclaim from film theorists and critics and won numerous awards, including the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival for The Mirror (1997), the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for The Circle (2000), and the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for Offside (2006). His films are known for their humanistic perspective on life in Iran, often focusing on the hardships of children, the impoverished, and women. Hamid Dabashi has written, "Panahi does not do as he is told—in fact he has made a successful career in not doing as he is told."After several years of conflict with the Iranian government over the content of his films (including several short-term arrests), Panahi was arrested in March 2010 along with his wife, daughter, and 15 friends, and later charged with propaganda against the Iranian government. Despite support from filmmakers, film organizations, and human rights organizations around the world, in December 2010 Panahi was sentenced to six years in prison and a 20-year ban on directing any movies, writing screenplays, giving interviews with Iranian or foreign media, or leaving the country except for medical treatment or making the Hajj pilgrimage. While awaiting the result of an appeal he made This Is Not a Film (2011), a documentary feature in the form of a video diary. It was smuggled out of Iran on a flash drive hidden inside a cake and shown at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. In February 2013 the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival showed Closed Curtain (Pardé) by Panahi and Kambuzia Partovi in competition; Panahi won the Silver Bear for Best Script. Panahi's subsequent film Taxi also premiered in competition at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2015 and won the Golden Bear, the prize awarded for the best film in the festival. In 2018 he won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Screenplay (tied) for 3 Faces; he was unable to leave Iran to attend the festival, so his daughter, Solmaz Panahi, read his statement and received the award on his behalf.
At age 20 Panahi was conscripted into the Iranian army and served in the Iran–Iraq War, working as an army cinematographer from 1980 to 1982. In 1981 he was captured by Kurdish rebels and held for 76 days. From his war experiences he made a documentary that was eventually shown on TV. After completing his military service, Panahi enrolled at the College of Cinema and TV in Tehran, where he studied filmmaking and especially appreciated the works of Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Luis Buñuel, and Jean-Luc Godard. At school he first met and befriended filmmaker Parviz Shahbazi and cinematographer Farzad Jodat, who shot all of Panahi's early work. During college he interned at the Bandar Abbas Center on the Persian Gulf Coast, where he made his first short documentary films. He also began working as an assistant director on his Professor's films before graduating in 1988.Panahi made several short documentary films for Iranian television through the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting's Channel 2. His first short film, The Wounded Heads (Yarali Bashlar), was a documentary about the illegal mourning tradition of head slashing in the Azerbaijan region of northern Iran. The film documents a mourning ceremony for the third Shi'ite Imam, Imam Hossein, in which people hit their heads with knives until they bled. Panahi had to shoot in secret and the film was banned for several years. In 1988 Panahi filmed The Second Look (Negah-e Dovvom), a behind-the-scenes documentary short on the making of Kambuzia Partovi's film Golnar. It focuses on the puppet maker for Partovi's film and his relationship with his puppets. It was not released until 1993. In 1990 he worked as an assistant director on Partovi's film The Fish (1991). In 1992 Panahi made his first narrative short film, The Friend (Doust), an homage to Kiarostami's first short film, The Bread and Alley. That same year Panahi made his second narrative short, The Final Exam (Akharin Emtehan). Both films starred non-professional actors Ali Azizollahi and Mehdi Shahabi and won awards for Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing at Iran's National TV Festival that year. Inspired by a story of a young Luis Buñuel once contacting successful film director Jean Epstein to ask for a job in filmmaking, Panahi left a message on Kiarostami's answering machine saying that he loved his films and asking for a job on his next film. Kiarostami hired Panahi as his assistant director for the film Through the Olive Trees. He had seen several of Panahi's short films and in 1995 said he was "extremely gifted and can be a promising figure in our cinema's future."
Panahi is married to Tahereh Saidi, whom he first met in college when she was working as a nurse. They have a son, Panah Panahi, born in 1984, and a daughter, Solmaz Panahi. Panah Panahi attended the University of Tehran and in 2009 made his first short film, The First Film, which was screened at the 2009 Montreal World Film Festival. Solmaz studied theater in Tehran.
Panahi was born in Mianeh, Iran. He has described his family as working class and grew up with four sisters and two brothers. His father worked as a house painter. His family spoke Azeri at home, but Persian with other Iranians. When he was ten years old he wrote on 8mm film camera. He also acted in one film and assisted Kanoon's library director in running a program that taught children how to operate a film camera. Starting at age 12, Panahi worked after school in order to afford to go see films. His impoverished childhood helped form the humanistic worldview of his films.
Movies & TV shows
A sly mini-remake of his last feature, 3 Faces, Jafar Panahi’s new short film follows the filmmaker, his daughter, and her theater-producer friend to a remote Kurdish village to visit a woman, a prete...
A film about a human rights activist and political prisoner in Iran and the country's women's rights movement has been secretly filmed for over two years. The rights of women, children, LGBT prisoners...
Celles qui chantent
From an Iranian village to the Palais Garnier, from a hospital in Villejuif in the South of Algeria, voices are raised ... Four filmmakers, Julie Deliquet, Karim Moussaoui, Sergei Loznitsa and Jafar P...
The famous actress Behnaz Jafari has no idea what to do when she receives a video in which a young girl is begging for help after her family did not allow her to study at Tehran Theatrical University....
Where Are You, Jafar Panahi?
Roughly titled Where Are You, Jafar Panahi?, it follows the filmmaker and Iranian director Majid Barzegar on a 20-minute drive to Kiarostami’s grave, during which time “the two friends speak appropria...
76 Minutes and 15 seconds with Abbas Kiarostami
Kiarostami as we have never really known him before, despite the transformative power of his many movies. Filmmaker and close friend Samadian avoids the talking heads of so many artistic memoirs to of...
A Very Ordinary Citizen
Mr. Safari, an 80-year-old pensioner, lives alone and without direction. When his son, living abroad, tries to arrange for his elderly father to visit him, Mr. Safari becomes dangerously obsessed with...
A yellow cab is driving through the vibrant and colourful streets of Tehran. Very diverse passengers enter the taxi, each candidly expressing their views while being interviewed by the driver who is n...
A man, his dog, a young woman and a filmmaker in a house by the Caspian Sea. All three are wanted, but they are also in search of each other. Thus begins an absurd game in which reality and fiction me...
This Is Not a Film
Renowned Iranian director Jafar Panahi received a 6-year prison sentence and a 20-year ban from filmmaking and conducting interviews with foreign press due to his open support for the opposition party...
The White Meadows
Rahmat travels to a host of islands in a vast salt pan in order to collect the inhabitant's tears for an unknown purpose. He is joined on his mysterious journey by a young boy searching for his father...
Seventy critics and filmmakers discuss cinema around the conflict between the artist and the observer, the creator and the critic. Between 1998 and 2007, Kléber Mendonça Filho recorded testimonies abo...
Persian Carpet is an omnibus film produced by Iran's National Carpet Center and Farabi Cinema Foundation where 15 renowned Iranian directors contributed films on the subject of Persian carpet. Carpets...
Untying the Knot
Jafar Panahi's short film, shot with one uninterrupted long take, about siblings trying to sell a carpet in need of money.
Iran: A Cinematographic Revolution
Today Iranian cinema is one of the most highly regarded national cinemas in the world, regularly winning festival awards and critical acclaim for films which combine remarkable artistry and social rel...
Since women are banned from soccer matches, Iranian females masquerade as males so they can slip into Tehran's stadium to see the game between Iran and Bahrain. The ones who are caught and arrested ar...
For Hussein, a pizza delivery driver, the imbalance of the social system is thrown in his face wherever he turns. One day when his friend, Ali, shows him the contents of a lost purse, Hussein discover...
Through the Olive Trees
The film focuses on one of the events in "Life, and Nothing More..." (1992), and explores the relationship between the film director, and the actors. The local actors play a couple who got married rig...
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