Ten (2002 film)

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Ten DVD.jpg
Directed byAbbas Kiarostami
Written byAbbas Kiarostami
StarringMania Akbari
Amin Maher
Release date
  • May 20, 2002 (2002-05-20) (Cannes Film Festival)
Running time
89 minutes

Ten (Persian: ده‎; appears as 10 during the opening credits) is a 2002 Iranian film, a docufiction[1] directed by Abbas Kiarostami, starring Mania Akbari and Amin Maher.[2]

It was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival[3] and ranks at number 447 on Empire magazine's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time.[4] The film ranked No. 47 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010.[5] The French film magazine Cahiers du cinéma ranked the film as 10th place in its list of best films of the decade 2000–2009.[6] The film was later voted the 98th greatest film since 2000 in an international critics' poll conducted by BBC.[7]


The film is divided into ten scenes, each of which depict a conversation between an unchanging female driver (played by Mania Akbari) and a variety of passengers as she drives around Tehran.[8][9] Her passengers include her young son (played by Akbari's real life son, Amin Maher), her sister, a bride, a prostitute, and a woman on her way to prayer. One of the major plots during the film is the driver's divorce from her (barely seen) husband, and the conflict that this causes between mother and son.

The first vignette of the film is a conversation between the first passenger, the driver’s son Amin, and his mother, as he is being driven to the local pool. The film maintains a singular shot of the boy for almost 17 minutes, until the driver is finally shown. Over the course of their conversation, the driver raises her voice to her son and tensions escalate. Amin interrupts his mother, yells over her, and calls her a “selfish woman”. It is revealed that the driver had to lie in order to get a divorce from her husband, Amin’s father, due to the limited rights women are given the court system. Amin is upset that his mother told the court that his father was a drug-addict, when this was in fact untrue. Their conversation quickly erupts into a fight between mother and son and the argument ends with Amin abruptly exiting the car.

The second vignette features the driver’s sister who works as a teacher. They discuss various topics during the course of their drive including the heavy burden and expectations children place on their parents. Both of their children have accused the women of not being good mothers. They eventually go to a bakery to pick up a birthday cake for the driver’s husband, Mortaza. The driver’s sister offers her advice regarding Amin and his rude behavior as of late. She advises her sister to let Amin live with his father who will be able to “set him straight”.

During the third vignette, the driver picks up a pious old woman who goes to the Mausoleum three times a day to pray. She reveals that her husband and 12-year-old son have both died. She goes to the Mausoleum to pray for them. She has sold her possessions in order to go on a pilgrimage to Syria and has given away her other possessions to people who are less fortunate than her. Their conversation ends as the driver drops the old woman off at the Mausoleum after she is unable to convince the driver to go in an pray herself.

The fourth vignette starts just as the driver has picked up a female sex worker. The sex worker had mistaken the driver for a male client and gotten into her car. The driver continues to drive around with the unnamed sex worker and is persistent in asking her personal questions. The sex worker feels as though the driver is lecturing her and talking down to her. In turn, the sex worker ends up lecturing the driver. She tells the driver that many of her clients are married men that get calls from their wives while they are with the sex worker. She admits to the driver that she feels bad for women who are idiotic enough to cling onto men and who actually believe that men are truthful. The sex worker was engaged to a man once until she realized she was “foolish”. The conversation ends as she is dropped off and immediately picked up by a client.

The fifth vignette features a woman whose relation to the driver is unclear. The woman is picked up just after she has prayed at the Mausoleum. The two women discuss religion and whether or not they are believers. The passenger confesses that she had not been a believer in the past, and now she is not so sure. The passenger tells the driver that she was supposed to get married and she now prays at the Mausoleum with the hope that the man she is dating will propose soon.

In the next vignette, the driver is picking up her son, Amin, from her ex-husband who has been taking care of him. The driver and the ex-husband each stay in their separate cars and Amin crosses a busy traffic-filled street to get into his mother’s car. The driver asks her husband’s permission to keep Amin overnight and he eventually agrees. Amin disagrees with his mother over a shortcut to his grandmother’s house, but eventually realizes his mother is going the right way. Amin tells his mom that his father has been watching porn at home alone at night.

The driver next picks up her crying sister who is distraught over her husband leaving after 7 years together. As she cries, the driver tells her, “It is wrong to cling to him”. The driver is reciting almost exactly what the sex worker had told her the night before. The driver is very frank and harsh with her sister. She tells her to toughen up and stop being so weak.

During the eighth vignette, the driver is with her son Amin again. Amin asks his mother what “she” said. The audience does not know who “she” is. However, the driver says the woman told her Amin is a man and therefore needs to live and learn from a man. The driver agrees that Amin should go live with his father and that it will be best for him. The mother and son then have a conversation about the ex-husband finding a new wife. Amin says that his new wife would be better than his mother. Amin proposes that the new wife would obey her husband, cook a new meal every night, and won’t be out all the time. Amin and his mother disagree again over a shortcut and soon their argument escalates to the point where Amin abruptly gets out the car again.

The ninth vignette features the same woman from vignette five. She is telling the driver that her boyfriend does not want to marry her, despite her hopes that he will. She feels jealous over the fact that he is thinking of another woman and that is what hurts her the most. Part way through their conversation, the driver asks her passenger why her veil is so tight. It is revealed that the passenger has shaved her head.

The final vignette is the shortest. The driver picks up her son from the father. The film ends as the driver is taking her son to his grandma’s house.

Film details[edit]

Many of the cast were untrained as actors, and the film has an improvisatory element. Elements of the characters were based on the actual life of the main actress and her son. The film was recorded on two digital cameras, one attached to each side of a moving car, showing the driver and passenger respectively.

The film explores personal social problems arising in Iranian society, particularly the problems of women.

See also[edit]


  • Andrew, Geoff, 10 (London: British Film Institute, 2005).
  • Copjec, Joan (May 2016). "Cinema as thought experiment: on movement and movements". differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. Duke University Press. 27 (1): 143&ndash, 175. doi:10.1215/10407391-3522781.


  1. ^ Ten – article at Life and Nothing More, October 17, 2015
  2. ^ Ten – review by Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian, September 27, 2002
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Ten". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  4. ^ "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time #447: Ten (2002)". Empire. Retrieved 2009-04-06.
  5. ^ "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema". Empire.
  6. ^ Cahiers du cinéma #652, January 2010. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2013-12-27.
  7. ^ "The 21st century's 100 greatest films". BBC. August 23, 2016. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  8. ^ Driving Affect: The car and Kiarostami's Ten – article by Nicholas Balaisis at York University
  9. ^ Abbas Kiarostami's Ten - Reinventing the Road Movie – review by David Parkinson at Moviemail, June 26, 2013

External links[edit]