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This Is Not a Film (2011)This Is Not a Film (2011)

This Is Not a Film (2011)

An ode to the persistence of artistic freedom amidst repression

Documentary, Drama

best
THE VERY BEST

8.4

movie

Iran

Persian

Discussion-sparking, Inspiring, Thought-provoking

2011

Jafar Panahi, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb

Jafar Panahi

75 min

Synopsis

Renowned Iranian director Jafar Panahi received a 6-year prison sentence and a 20-year ban from filmmaking and conducting interviews with foreign press due to his open support for the opposition party in Iran's 2009 election. In this film, which was shot secretly by Panahi's close friend Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and smuggled into France on a USB stick concealed inside a cake for a last-minute submission to Cannes, Panahi documents his daily life under house arrest as he awaits a decision on his appeal.

Our Take

8.4
Gerald Cajayon

Everything about This Is Not a Film revolves around state censorship. Documentarian Mojtaba Mirtahmasb records Iranian cinema giant Jafar Panahi’s life under house arrest, maneuvering through the legal loopholes on Panahi’s 20-year ban on filmmaking and screenwriting. Here Panahi describes one of his unmade films that was rejected by the Iranian ministry, creating makeshift sets out of tape and his apartment’s living room, further emphasizing the ridiculousness of the state-imposed limitations on his artistic freedom. The result is a quasi-documentary that functions paradoxically, its un-cinematic quality essential for aesthetics as well as narrative. That this film had to be smuggled from Iran to Cannes on a flash drive hidden inside a birthday cake is a testament to political cinema’s power to be a vessel of pro-democracy sentiments, a fist raised proudly against state censors.

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