Hit The Road

February 14, 2023 Members’ Choice 8:30pm

Debut writer/director Panah Panahi is inevitably described as ‘the son of Jafar Panahi’; he has acknowledged that fear of being compared to his famous father “completely paralysed me for years”. Jafar learned his craft working as the assistant of celebrated Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami – Panah remembers learning as a child from both filmmakers, “sitting in the back of the car listening to them, observing them”. Jafar was the first Iranian to win a major award at Cannes (for his debut, The White Balloon); he went on to win the top awards at both Venice (The Circle) and Berlin (Taxi Tehran).

In 2010 Jafar Panahi was charged by the Iranian authorities with “propaganda against the system”, sentenced to 6 years in prison, and banned from making films and travelling for 20 years. Having spent the last 7 months in detention, he was released on bail earlier this month after going on a dry hunger strike. His son has described the process of writing the script for Hit the Road as a “therapy session”: an opportunity to express the paranoia and fear of surveillance felt by the whole family during recent years, which eventually caused his sister (who had herself been arrested) to leave Iran. Panah describes his sister’s decision to leave as the film’s “emotional inspiration”.

Travelling by car is a major feature of Hit the Road, as well as of the work of Jafar Panahi and Kiarostami. Panah describes the car as a ‘second home’ where Iranians can “listen to the music you want to, in which even if [a woman’s] scarf falls off, they won’t arrest you.”

Thrillingly inventive, satisfyingly textured and infused with warmth and humanity, this is a triumph” Wendy Ide, Screen International

Expert balance of knockabout humour and slowly tightening tension … both culturally specific and able to evoke universal experiences that connect beyond borders” Leigh Singer, Sight & Sound

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Film Information
Release year: 2021
Running time:   93 mins
Directed by: Panah Panahi
Language: Persian (English subtitles)
Country: Iran
Genre: Drama
Starring: Pantea Panahiha,
Mohammad Hassan Madjooni,
Rayan Sarlak
Awards: London Film Festival:
Best Film
More info:

Rotten Tomatoes
WFC Audience Score:  68%

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