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This Is Not a Film (2011)
"In film nist" (original title)

7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 2,760 users   Metascore: 90/100
Reviews: 20 user | 109 critic | 27 from Metacritic.com

It's been months since Jafar Panahi, stuck in jail, has been awaiting a verdict by the appeals court. By depicting a day in his life, Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb try to portray the deprivations looming in contemporary Iranian cinema.

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Storyline

It's been months since Jafar Panahi, stuck in jail, has been awaiting a verdict by the appeals court. By depicting a day in his life, Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb try to portray the deprivations looming in contemporary Iranian cinema.

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Documentary

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Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

29 February 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

This Is Not a Film  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$7,638 (USA) (9 March 2012)

Gross:

$75,465 (USA) (30 November 2012)
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Trivia

Director Jafar Panahi was put under house arrest in 2010 and banned from filmmaking for 20 years. This film was smuggled out of Iran on a USB stick hidden in a cake. See more »

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Featured in Brows Held High: This Is Not a Film (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

A purely individual look at what it is to be a forbidden film maker.

Jafar Panahi: "If we could tell a film, then why make a film?"

My interest in Iranian cinema started with Dayereh (2000) by Jafar Panahi and since then I've watched a few other Iranian films of which most are directed by him. I remember after the first film I saw, I read about him on Wikipedia and read about his sentence and ban from film making. It is quite shocking and this gives more sense to this documentary which would have never been seen if it hadn't been smuggled out of Iran on a USB stick.

In film nist starts with Jafar Panahi having breakfast over the course of breakfast he calls a friend, Iranian documentary director Mojtaba Mirtahmasb asking him to come over. The only link we have with the outside world is through his phone. Before his friend comes Jafar has a phone call with his lawyer who confirms that he will definitely have to go to prison and that she may try to reduce the ban duration on appeal but it's probably all she can do. She tells him that it is not a judiciary sentence but a political one. When his friend arrives, Jafar Panahi explains the last films he wanted to do and how they were both denied approval and had to let them go. He has the script of one and decides that he can explain it, using his living room, the carpet representing the room in which a girl is- also- imprisoned and a chair for the window.

This is not a film is exactly what the title says it is. It is a day, a documentary at most. Most of Jafar Panahi movies give a lot of freedom to (amateur) actors who creates the whole atmosphere. It seems clear that this was not planned either, this has no script or no particular goal except to have a camera there, to document whatever could be documented before it's too late.

The setting is also particular as the whole town goes crazy over the celebrations of "Fireworks Wednesday" and the two friends stay inside, wondering what to do and how to do it. It gets particularly strange when Jafar Panahi starts recording with his mobile phone, filming the act of being filmed. I think the highest point of this film being not a film, is when Jafar Panahi explains the story of this film he was going to make and in the middle of replaying it... He suddenly becomes silent and his face tells us that he has strong doubts and this is where the quote I picked is said, he doubts the whole concept of a film, of telling a story and if it is a story worth telling. It might be reduced to the film he was discussing in particular, however, I would think that it goes beyond that, that it touches every film he's done including this one.

A lot of the issues are not entirely discussed, maybe as a way to retain dignity in the face of a sentence or simply because they are not thought out to be relevant. These very blunt, almost political and philosophical moments contrast with the comical aspect of his iguana pet slowly climbing a bookshelf or the neighbor who tries to leave her dog with him before he simply starts barking. It is also strongly incidental as when a young arts student walk in to come and pick the trash, a job he does to help out his sister and brother-in-law, suddenly the story focuses on him and as he goes on to pick up the trash, we follow him. In a way, isn't that what movies always tried to do, follow the strange happenings of life?

I liked: It doesn't get much more explicitly banned film, well this is not a film.

I disliked: Very random in a bumpy unscripted way.

70/100 If you are looking for a deep political look in the situation of Iran's cinema industry and its struggle then you won't find it. This is a purely individual look at what it is to be a forbidden film maker.

Read more reviews at: www.theordinaryreview.blogspot.com


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