Cannes Film Fest 2018: 3 Faces by Banned Iranian Director Jafar Panahi (in House Arrest)

The fact that Iranian auteur Jafar Panahi (The White Balloon) continues to make films on a regular basis in Iran is nothing short of a miracle–a manifestation of an indefatigable artistic determination.

As already documented in various reports, Panahi was not allowed to accompany his film, 3 Faces, to the 2018 Cannes Film Fest, where it received its world premiere (In Competition).

3 Faces is Panahi’s fourth feature since he was banned from directing and put in house arrest by Iranian authorities.

Sort of a road movie, 3 Faces stars Panahi (as himself), driving his car to a mountain village with a famous actress in order to investigate a girl’s suicide.

In the first scene, a girl records a long message before hanging herself.  Questions arouse over her very death and whether or not the tape was edited out and who had actually send it.  It’s a mystery that the film never bother to resolve, perhaps intentionally so.

The girl’s defiant wish to become an actress has been met by many obstacles from various agencies.  But I think Panahi is trying to say something deeper about sexism, patriarchy and male-dominated society, and the importance of free free choice.

Simple to a fault, and intimate in scale, 3 Faces is not one of Panahi’s strongest features.  But it still has merits as yet another panel in the body of work of a talented and rebellious filmmaker, who refuses to be defeated by political and religious factors.

Now that Abbas Kiarostami is no longer with us (he died untimely at age 76 in Paris, due to some medical complications), Panahi and two-time Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi are the most acclaimed and best-known Iranian directors outside of their home country.