Eight years into his filmmaking ban, Iranian director Jafar Panahi (This Is Not a Film, Taxi) delivers another perceptive sideways glance at the contradictions that exist in contemporary Iranian society. An audacious triumph from a director who has already confirmed his place as one of the most important filmmakers of the 21st century, 3 Faces is a road trip through patriarchal rural Iran that becomes an odyssey of enlightenment.
Iranian actor Behnaz Jafari (playing herself) is distraught after receiving an apparent suicide note from a girl whose family forbid her to pursue studies at a drama school. With her director (played by Panahi himself) in tow, she flees the film she’s working on and embarks on a road trip to Iran’s rural north to locate the girl. Directing frequently farcical encounters with signature restraint, Panahi gently probes the patriarchal customs that impact women in all areas of Iranian society, astutely revealing a myopic worldview lurking beneath the veneer of apparently quaint local traditions and rituals of hospitality.
A master of cinema and a celebrated champion of the Iranian New Wave before his arrest and subsequent filmmaking ban, Panahi’s irrepressible, mischievous storytelling has found its way through the cracks and onto the biggest international stages, even through the director himself cannot leave the country. At the same time these post-ban films have emerged as a unique body of work unto themselves, with 3 Faces no exception.