‘Three Faces’ Trailer: Jafar Panahi Defies His Filmmaking Ban to Return to Cannes Once More — Watch

It’s his fourth film since receiving a 20-year ban from the Iranian government.

Eight years after receiving a two-decade ban on filmmaking, Jafar Panahi is back at Cannes once again. “Three Faces,” his fourth film since that harsh sentence was imposed on him by the Iranian government, just premiered on the Croisette; in his review, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn writes that the movie “maintains the unique blend of introspection and intrigue that defines this singular director’s talent.” Now the film has a trailer to go along with the anticipation. Watch below.

Here’s the synopsis: “Well-known actress Behnaz Jafari is distraught by a provincial girl’s video plea for help — oppressed by her family to not pursue her studies at the Tehran drama conservatory. Behnaz abandons her shoot and turns to filmmaker Jafar Panahi to help solve the mystery of the young girl’s troubles. They travel by car to the rural north where they have amusing encounters with the charming folk of the girl’s mountain village. But the city visitors soon discover that the protection of age-old traditions is as generous as local hospitality…”

Marziyeh Rezaei stars alongside Jafari and Panahi in the film, which has yet to receive distribution.

‘Three Faces’ Review: Jafar Panahi’s Turns His Life Into a Movie With Another Statement on Censorship — Cannes 2018

The director’s latest thoughtful work widens his lens to look beyond his own challenges with artistic oppression.

Jafar Panahi was banned from filmmaking by the Iranian government, but the decree only led him to make movies in a different kind of way. Starting with the meta-documentary “This Is Not a Film” in 2011, Panahi’s creative frustrations have taken center stage in various inventive ways: In “Closed Curtain,” the allegorical tale of thieves on the lam folds into a broader creative lament when the filmmaker enters the frame to contemplate his characters, while the acclaimed “Taxi” found his camera exclusively in the confines of the titular vehicle as Panahi drove around Tehran.

The fourth entry in this innovative period, “Three Faces,” finds him acting in another story seemingly pulled from his real experiences — although this time, he’s more of the supporting character in a meandering but often insightful exploration of censorship and oppression in a society that accepts those phenomena as facts of life.

It starts with a call for help. Teen Mariziyeh (Marizyeh Rezaei) records a jittery video on her phone, addressing celebrity actress Behnaz Jafari, whom Mariziyeh says she’s been trying to contact to no avail. Hailing from a small, religious village in rural Turkey, Mariziyeh is desperate to leave home and pursue a career in entertainment, but her parents won’t hear it. The girl concluded that only Jafari can help talk her folks out of it, but having given up on ever reaching the star, Mariziyeh has decided to hang herself in a cave. The phone catapults to the ground. Did she go through with it?

Cut to a despondent Jafari, sitting in a car with Panahi, and contemplating that cliffhanger. Having fled a movie set when she heard the news, Jafari turns to the filmmaker to demand that they track down the source of the video to determine if the young woman really committed suicide. As Panahi’s typical slow-moving camera circulates through the vehicle and the decision to hit the road takes shape, an aura of mystery takes hold several fronts: Panahi seems to wink at audiences who have followed his on-camera exploits in several years, as his actions will dictate the narrative to come. He starts to drive.

At first, “Three Faces” becomes a pensive road trip, with duo crossing the border into Turkey and making their way to Mariziyeh’s village. Once there, they find her squabbling relatives and best friend Maedeh (Maedeh Erteghaei), initially under the auspices of uncovering the missing girl’s whereabouts. But with time, they engulf themselves in the small community, contemplating the alienation and yearning at the root of provincial life. Whereas Panahi’s last three features were solipsistic mission statements, in this case, he extends his fixations to the region as a whole.

As usual, the movie opens with a tantalizing premise and the immediate uncertainty about where it might go next. Ultimately, it offers less payoff, but the journey there is riddled with fascinating local color. As Panahi and Maedeh come across an elderly woman lying in her grave, and a sick cow blocking the road, the minimalist setting starts to feel like an apocalyptic wasteland. Yet even here, the movie concludes, young people harbor dreams of making it big and exploring the world. For the first time, this celebrated director’s legal problems shrink in the context of a much bigger picture.

For the most part, he cedes control to Jafari, whose mixture of outrage and empathy for the young woman who reached out to her becomes a centerpiece of the drama. At first, Jafari seems primarily concerned with exonerating herself from the guilt of causing a suicide; with time, however, a newfound responsibility takes shape, and “Three Faces” feels more in line with the canny feminist leanings of Panahi’s earlier films, from “The Mirror” to “Offside.”

Still, once the movie settles into its groove and lays out the bulk of its premise, Panahi seems almost too content to simmer in the setting and give up developing it much further. The story comes to a halt and staggers along through its second half, tidying up loose ends before regaining some of its appeal in the closing minutes, when Jafari takes back control of the material. Panahi can’t help but inject some of his usual meta-narrative finessing, with Jafari growing suspicious of the director’s intentions after recalling a project he pitched to her that bears notable similarities to their current circumstances. Are we watching the movie he conceived? In this case, such playful narrative questions are irrelevant to the more complex themes in play.

But even as “Three Faces” staggers along, it maintains the unique blend of introspection and intrigue that defines this singular director’s talent. At one point, the filmmaker’s mother calls him, concerned about reports that he’s making another movie in defiance of the government’s ban. He assures her they’re just “rumors,” and that might not be a lie — “Three Faces” is more of a feature-length sketch, with its snapshot of characters designed to widen the lens on a country determined on narrowing it. The closing shot mirrors the end of “Taxi”: another static image shot through a windshield, with characters wandering toward the horizon, uncertain of their destination but willing to keep moving anyway.

Grade: B

“Three Faces” premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. It is currently seeking distribution.

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

‘Three Faces’ Film Review: Once Again, Jafar Panahi Is Modest But Profound

For the past few years, Iranian director Jafar Panahi has been sending a series of quietly confounding films to festivals that he’s not allowed to attend. “Three Faces,” which premiered this weekend at the Cannes Film Festival, is the latest of these little examples of his cinematic sleight-of-hand, and another Panahi gem that has more on its mind than it lets on.

“Three Faces” is typical of the canny director’s output in the way it’s modest but profound, leisurely but urgent, a portrait of a country disguised as a meandering road movie.

But it’s not like he’s using misdirection or only pretending to be modest and leisurely. Panahi’s films are all those things at once — and this one is particularly timely at this year’s Cannes in the way he manages, without openly criticizing his home country, to sketch a portrait of how the refusal to give women much agency in their lives is ingrained in the society.

Also Read: ‘Leto’ Film Review: Musical Biopic Is a Rock ‘n’ Roll Fever Dream

He is at once the most playful of directors and the most serious, using a light touch to explore heavy matters in the face of government restrictions.

Along with Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov, a critic of the Putin regime who is under house arrest for what his supporters say are political reasons, Panahi is one of the two main-competition directors who has been prevented from traveling to the festival by his home country. Convicted of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic,” among other offenses, he is not allowed to leave the country, and in 2010 he was officially forbidden from making movies for 20 years, a decree he has now ignored four times.

The first was 2011’s wryly titled “This Is Not a Film,” in which the filmmaker sat in his apartment and described the film he would have made if he had been allowed to do so. The second, “Closed Curtain” in 2013, was a funhouse mirror of sorts, set inside a beach house where a screenwriter keeps the drapes drawn to avoid detection. And the third, 2015’s “Taxi,” was a wry and exceptional film that found Panahi simply driving a cab around Tehran and having conversations with his passengers about the state of life in the country.

Also like Serebrennikov, whose “Leto” was a highlight of the festival’s first few days, Panahi’s contribution to this year’s Cannes is a significant one. “Three Faces” continues to blur the line between fiction and documentary, and to subtly comment on the state of Iran.

Also Read: ‘Girls of the Sun’ Film Review: A Middle Eastern Feminist Hero Slays ISIS

The film starts with an iPhone video apparently shot by a distraught young woman who seemingly hangs herself after her family and her fiance’s family have refused to let her attend an acting conservatory in Tehran. The video gets to Panahi and to actress Behnaz Jafari, both playing themselves, who venture to the small mountain village where the girl lives in an attempt to track her down.

Typical of the director’s elusiveness, Jafari scolds Panahi early in the trip, saying that she thinks he may just be making a movie about suicide, not really investigating a missing girl. Then Panahi’s mother calls and says, “I hear you’re off making a film?”

“No, that’s not true,” he says.

“Now you’re telling your mother fibs?” she shoots back.

Also Read: ‘Fahrenheit 451’ Film Review: Michael B. Jordan Remakes Ray Bradbury for the Age of Fake News

The trip plays out in long conversations, in arguments and invitations to tea and discussions of what value entertainment has in rural Iran, where one character dismissively says there are more satellite dishes than people. The aspiring young actress, they learn, was branded an “empty-headed brat” because she wants to be an actress — but an aging star of some renown who lives in the area is treated similarly, and the townspeople alternate between adulation and scorn when they speak to Jafari.

A lot of things happen at a remove: Jafari goes into a house to speak to the young woman, but Panahi remains in the car and so does the camera. Attitudes evolve, slightly, but there’s no grand conclusion, just the sense that women, even famous ones, are there to be acted upon, not to act (in every sense of that word).

Before “Taxi” screened in at the Berlin Film Festival, where it won the festival’s top prize, the Golden Bear, Panahi released a statement: “Nothing can prevent me from making films since when being pushed to the ultimate corners I connect with my inner-self and, in such private spaces, despite all limitations, the necessity to create becomes even more of an urge.

“Cinema as an Art becomes my main preoccupation. That is the reason why I have to continue making films under any circumstances to pay my respect and feel alive.”

With “Three Faces,” he once again makes the audience feel alive as well.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Cate Blanchett Calls for ‘Parity and Transparency’ in Red Carpet Protest of Gender Inequity in Cannes

Cannes Report, Day 4: Sales Market Heats Up, ‘355’ Sparks Bidding War, Jean-Luc Godard Is Back

‘Girl’ Film Review: Transgender Teen Drama Is a True Cannes Discovery

For the past few years, Iranian director Jafar Panahi has been sending a series of quietly confounding films to festivals that he’s not allowed to attend. “Three Faces,” which premiered this weekend at the Cannes Film Festival, is the latest of these little examples of his cinematic sleight-of-hand, and another Panahi gem that has more on its mind than it lets on.

“Three Faces” is typical of the canny director’s output in the way it’s modest but profound, leisurely but urgent, a portrait of a country disguised as a meandering road movie.

But it’s not like he’s using misdirection or only pretending to be modest and leisurely. Panahi’s films are all those things at once — and this one is particularly timely at this year’s Cannes in the way he manages, without openly criticizing his home country, to sketch a portrait of how the refusal to give women much agency in their lives is ingrained in the society.

He is at once the most playful of directors and the most serious, using a light touch to explore heavy matters in the face of government restrictions.

Along with Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov, a critic of the Putin regime who is under house arrest for what his supporters say are political reasons, Panahi is one of the two main-competition directors who has been prevented from traveling to the festival by his home country. Convicted of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic,” among other offenses, he is not allowed to leave the country, and in 2010 he was officially forbidden from making movies for 20 years, a decree he has now ignored four times.

The first was 2011’s wryly titled “This Is Not a Film,” in which the filmmaker sat in his apartment and described the film he would have made if he had been allowed to do so. The second, “Closed Curtain” in 2013, was a funhouse mirror of sorts, set inside a beach house where a screenwriter keeps the drapes drawn to avoid detection. And the third, 2015’s “Taxi,” was a wry and exceptional film that found Panahi simply driving a cab around Tehran and having conversations with his passengers about the state of life in the country.

Also like Serebrennikov, whose “Leto” was a highlight of the festival’s first few days, Panahi’s contribution to this year’s Cannes is a significant one. “Three Faces” continues to blur the line between fiction and documentary, and to subtly comment on the state of Iran.

The film starts with an iPhone video apparently shot by a distraught young woman who seemingly hangs herself after her family and her fiance’s family have refused to let her attend an acting conservatory in Tehran. The video gets to Panahi and to actress Behnaz Jafari, both playing themselves, who venture to the small mountain village where the girl lives in an attempt to track her down.

Typical of the director’s elusiveness, Jafari scolds Panahi early in the trip, saying that she thinks he may just be making a movie about suicide, not really investigating a missing girl. Then Panahi’s mother calls and says, “I hear you’re off making a film?”

“No, that’s not true,” he says.

“Now you’re telling your mother fibs?” she shoots back.

The trip plays out in long conversations, in arguments and invitations to tea and discussions of what value entertainment has in rural Iran, where one character dismissively says there are more satellite dishes than people. The aspiring young actress, they learn, was branded an “empty-headed brat” because she wants to be an actress — but an aging star of some renown who lives in the area is treated similarly, and the townspeople alternate between adulation and scorn when they speak to Jafari.

A lot of things happen at a remove: Jafari goes into a house to speak to the young woman, but Panahi remains in the car and so does the camera. Attitudes evolve, slightly, but there’s no grand conclusion, just the sense that women, even famous ones, are there to be acted upon, not to act (in every sense of that word).

Before “Taxi” screened in at the Berlin Film Festival, where it won the festival’s top prize, the Golden Bear, Panahi released a statement: “Nothing can prevent me from making films since when being pushed to the ultimate corners I connect with my inner-self and, in such private spaces, despite all limitations, the necessity to create becomes even more of an urge.

“Cinema as an Art becomes my main preoccupation. That is the reason why I have to continue making films under any circumstances to pay my respect and feel alive.”

With “Three Faces,” he once again makes the audience feel alive as well.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Cate Blanchett Calls for 'Parity and Transparency' in Red Carpet Protest of Gender Inequity in Cannes

Cannes Report, Day 4: Sales Market Heats Up, '355' Sparks Bidding War, Jean-Luc Godard Is Back

'Girl' Film Review: Transgender Teen Drama Is a True Cannes Discovery

Jafar Panahi: Cannes, French Authorities To Appeal Iran For Filmmaker’s Fest Presence

In a first for Jafar Panahi, the lauded Iranian filmmaker has a berth in the main competition at the Cannes Film Festival with his latest work, Three Faces. What is not clear is if he will be allowed to travel to the Riviera for the honor. In 2010, Panahi was arrested by the Iranian authorities and banned from making films. He has continued to work, but is unable to leave Iran and still faces a prison sentence which has not been enforced. Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux said…

In a first for Jafar Panahi, the lauded Iranian filmmaker has a berth in the main competition at the Cannes Film Festival with his latest work, Three Faces. What is not clear is if he will be allowed to travel to the Riviera for the honor. In 2010, Panahi was arrested by the Iranian authorities and banned from making films. He has continued to work, but is unable to leave Iran and still faces a prison sentence which has not been enforced. Cannes chief Thierry Frémaux said…