Friday, March 1, 2013

This Is Not a Film (2011)

Jafar Panahi at his Tehran home with Iggy, an iguana owned by his daughter Somaz, from his latest film This Is Not a Film (2011).

As the film opens there is a statement on a black screen introducing the audience to the filmmaker:

"Jafar Panahi is one of Iran's leading filmmakers and a vocal critic of the government. He was arrested on March 1, 2010. After an international outcry he was released on bail three months later and charged with 'assembly and colluding iwth the intention to commit crimes against the country's national security and propaganda against the Islamic Republic.'

"On Dec 20 2010 Panahi was convicted and given a six-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on making movies, writing screenplays, giving any interviews or leaving the country.

"While his case was on appeal, this video was shot and eventually smuggled out of Iran in a flash drive hidden inside a birthday cake.

"It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May of 2011."

Panahi made this film-which-is-not-a-film with an iphone and a professional color film camera, in collaboration with documentary filmmaker Mojtaba Mirtahmasb. With all its stark simplicity, it is a strong statement of Panahi's resistance to his own situation and to the current state of art, censorship and film in Iran. For example, this footage is almost completely confined to the space in his Tehran home, and for that reason no women make any visual appearances. Pahahi feels to show a woman wearing a chador in her own home (as required by the Islamic Republic's censors) would be a lie, because in Iran women do not wear chadors at home.

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