This is Not a Film
Director: Jafir Panahi
This is Not a Film from Iranian director Jafir Panahi isn't a film and yet
it is. It depends on your definition of a film I guess. This is all due to
the unusual circumstances Panahi found himself in. And still is. Along with
Abbas Kiarostami, he is probably Iran's best known director outside of Iran.
Inside Iran it is hard to say since most of his films have been banned though
I think people have been able to see them in irregular ways because every
one seemed to recognize him in his film Tehran Taxi.
In 2010 he was arrested and sentenced to six years in prison and banned from
making films for twenty years. And confined to his apartment. With his pet
iguana who seems to think it is a cat. His case has been appealed where he
hopes that the sentence will be reduced and the ban as well. So what does
he do as he awaits his appeal - well what else - he makes this film that
is not a film. He thinks he has found a technical loophole. Questionable.
He invites a friend over - documentary filmmaker Mojtaba Mirtahmasb - and
has him shoot the film that is Not a Film. All within Panahi's apartment
with Iggy the Iguana crawling all over. It all takes place in a day - though
actually the shoot took a bit longer - and Panahi in his always charming
manner talks about a script that he wrote and was turned down by the government
censors and sets it up in his living room - on a beautiful Persian carpet
I would sell my first born to have - this is where her bedroom would be,
this is the alleyway - and somehow pulls us into the story but never finishes
it. He also shows us a clip of two of his early films The Mirror and Crimson
Gold and talks about using non-professional actors which is what he almost
always does. He is interrupted constantly by phone calls from friends and
his lawyer and people knocking at the door - all filmed - and edited and
looks like a film but isn't.
The film was smuggled out of Iran on a thumb drive inside a cake and was
entered into Cannes. This guy has balls. And as far as I can figure out his
case has still not been settled and he has made a few more films - one being
the terrific Tehran Taxi in which he was clearly outside his apartment. So
I am not really sure what is going on but I hope he is able to keep making
these small amusing on the run touching films because they humanize a people
under fire right now if not the regime. It is good to remember these are
real people and not estimated casualty figures.