This Is Not A Film
- Director:Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Jafar Panahi
- Cast:Jafar Panahi
- Release Date:November 10, 2011
- Running time:75 minutes
- Film Worth:$15.00
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More akin to a commentary than a “film”, Jafar Panahi proves an engaging presence and crucial political voice.
The title of Jafar Panahi's film recalls the painter Magritte's famous surrealist challenge (in a painting of a pipe), "This is not a pipe." There is a more serious reason why he doesn't want to call it a film though, because the theocratic Iranian regime takes its "moral" agenda and control of the media very seriously indeed. It has forbidden him to make films. But the Tehran-based director is used to restrictions, and also to pushing back. Some of his films - like The Circle, which showed the everyday forms of female resistance to the regime - have been shot guerrilla style, and Panahi even says thoughtfully that such "internal pressure" may have helped him to make more important films.
In this 75-minute "effort" (as he calls it in the credits), Panahi talks directly to the camera in his apartment. Soon tiring of a fixed tripod shot, he gets an equally brave friend and cameraman, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, to come over and follow him around his flat. Basically the celebrated director then talks about how he negotiated some of the restrictions when making his previous films. He had another film planned before the authorities banned him from making films for twenty years, and also threatened him with six years of imprisonment. Panahi goes as close to the wind as he can here. He blocks out a space similar to the one that the not-yet-made film would use. He describes aspects of the story and tells how he would shoot it if he was allowed. Although his friend is more nervous than his host, the two share a few sly jokes, and it is obvious that Panahi is easy company.
Of course, as Panahi knows, this isn't really a "film" in any full sense - it's more a commentary upon an unnatural situation - but Panahi is engaging while he makes that essential political point from his confinement.