Director: Jafar Panahi
Jafar Panahi has once again utilised the services of youthful Mina Mohammed Khani, the utterly charming young thesp whose talents made The White Balloon the most popular feature of MIFF 1996. His second film after a succession of shorts, Panahi has excelled under the tutelage of Iranian cinema guru Abbas Kiarostami. He has taken an unadorned plot, an ingenious structure and exemplary cinematography, and combined them in a film both striking, touching and remarkably clever.
Little Mina waits in vain while all her school chums are collected by their parents but her mother fails to show. With her arm in plaster, confused about direction, the correct bus to catch and which stop to get off at, Mina decides to make her own way home. The big city swirl of traffic noise, strange conversations, street music and pedestrian chaos ends with Mina's scream. She has had enough of the arduous quest to find home... and the film which the whole scenario is part of!
Now favouring a technique experimented with by another Iran film veteran, Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Salaam Cinema, Gabbeh MIFF 1996, A Moment of Innocence MIFF 1997), Panahi reveals the Babushka Doll structure of his film within a film. Mina doesn't want to act in the film any more, she steps off the bus and heads home, for real, still wearing a microphone. The Mirror resumes with a separate level of 'authenticity'.
In a technical tour de force Panahi evokes the feeling that the film unfolds in real time. Pundits, Werner Herzog amongst them, continue to heap deserved praise upon the beautiful, elegant and universally themed work currently produced in Iran and The Mirror is another sterling example.
Born in 1960 in Mianeh, Iran, Jafar Panahi made short films for television after completing his film studies. He then became assistant to Abbas Kiarostami, his mentor and inspiration. Panahi won the Camera d'Or at Cannes for his debut feature, The White Balloon (1995). His filmography also includes the shorts Kish (1991), The Friend (1995) and Ardekoul (1997).