DVD This Is Not a Film (DVD 16258520),
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This Is Not a Film
Region 1 USA/CA (
On March 1, 2010, Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi was arrested on charges of "propaganda against the Islamic Republic" (his crime was speaking out on behalf of activists protesting the dubious re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), and he was sentenced to six years behind bars and banned from making films for twenty years. While Panahi's prison sentence was suspended after a few months in jail, Iranian officials have still forbidden him from directing movies, writing screenplays, giving interviews or leaving the country. In response, fellow filmmaker Mojtaba Mirtahmasb teamed up with Panahi to create IN FILM NIST (aka THIS IS NOT A FILM), in which Panahi ponders the past and current state of his career as well as the screenplay he was planning to shoot shortly before his sentence was handed down. As Panahi stages a reading of the script in his home (with Mirtahmasb capturing the action on video as other friends and family members occasionally function as "director" via messages and phone calls), Panahi demonstrates the blocking and camera angles he had in mind using taped diagrams on his living-room floor, and the two filmmakers explore the nebulous line between making a film and talking about how one would make a film in front of a camera. Panahi and Mirtahmasb were able to smuggle a copy of THIS IS NOT A FILM out of Iran in defiance of the government's ban on Panahi's work, and the picture was screened at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
5 stars out of 5 -- "The tragic tale of imprisoned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi is brought to light in THIS IS NOT A FILM, a stirring look at an artist forced to abandon the work he loves so much."
"[I]n its simplicity it's as direct as a laser beam, underscoring why Panahi is considered so dangerous by his country's government: The difference between just looking and really seeing is second nature to him."
"Against all odds, an unquenchable artist has made yet another piece of powerful art."
Wall Street Journal
"So if this is not a film, it is, among other things, a statement of creative resistance in the face of tyranny and a document of intellectual freedom under political duress."
New York Times
"Fascinating for what it signifies as much as what it shows, THIS IS NOT A FILM illustrates how Panahi is struggling to stay alive creatively and, paradoxically, can't help but demonstrate how much of a natural filmmaker he is."
Los Angeles Times
"[T]his is a great film, and a triumph of creativity and courage over repression....A stirring demonstration of how just living one's daily life can be a work of art." -- Grade: A
"[C]onsistently amusing and enlivening....Part of the jest is that Panahi is such a commanding personality, he cannot stop playing at being a director."
"This is not a film, but a message in a bottle, and -- despite Panahi's impending imprisonment -- a message of hope and encouragement."
Sight and Sound
4 stars out of 5 -- "TINAF reveals not only the realities of artistic censorship, but its firework-laden finale shows how cinema thrives on spontaneity."
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "Little by little, detail by detail, THIS IS NOT A FILM leads to a final scene of overwhelming power."
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