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

Not Rated  |   |  Documentary  |  29 February 2012 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 3,060 users   Metascore: 90/100
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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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Mojtaba Mirtahmasb ...


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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Release Date:

29 February 2012 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

This Is Not a Film  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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


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

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Did You Know?


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 »


Features Crimson Gold (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Revealing inside view in Iranian apartment of a film maker, confined to his home while awaiting an appeal. Though not really boring, don't expect much action
23 October 2011 | by (Amersfoort, The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

I saw "This Is Not A Film" as part of the Ghent filmfestival 2011. Originally the film "Absolutely Tame Is A Horse" of the same director was scheduled. It had to be replaced in the last minute, due to an export ban on the film itself, plus the Iranian distributor loosing his license.

Nearly all 75 minutes that the replacement film takes, are shot within the apartment of the director in question. He is not allowed to make films, but nowhere was forbidden to read a screenplay aloud. On the other hand, as correctly noted by the camera man, recording this reading might still be considered film making. Hence he named this film "This Is Not A film", which may or may not help to evade the issue.

There were fireworks, which we saw announced on TV as non-religious, a different word for Not Allowed. Yet we clearly saw and heard fireworks on several places spread over the neighborhood. Could this be construed as some not-so-silent protest?? We felt a volatile atmosphere around these fireworks, albeit in an indirect way, because everyone seemed worried about their kids and relatives coming home in time. Moreover, when he was talking on the phone with a colleague who was underway, the latter had to discontinue abruptly when stopped by the police. This very apparently was cause for alarm. Later on he phoned back, and reassured us that the police only wanted to check his camera, lying unused on the passenger seat. All such signals combined clearly demonstrated an atmosphere of suppression and fear for the police.

I was prejudiced by some reviews I've read, describing this not-a-film as a bit boring. Having seen it, I found that too harsh. It may apply to the elevator scene, but that was neatly broken up in small scenes providing for some diversion. Within the apartment, a nice intermezzo was created by a pet lizard. It was being fed in the beginning, and then disappeared out of sight for a while. Later on we saw it crawling over our main character (complaining about its sharp nails) and over the couch, to eventually find a resting place in the bookshelves.

Throughout the film I was surprised that someone convicted for 6 years in prison, and a ban to make films for 20 years, was not locked up, but instead having some house arrest while awaiting an appeal. It clearly shows that I know nothing about the Iranian judicial system. Especially, as we learned from a phone call with his attorney, that his conviction was not on a legal basis, but on political grounds only. The latter is a concept very alien to us.

All in all, this not-a-film gave a limited inside view in a country we only know from newspapers. It was also a revealing inside view in an Iranian apartment, larger and better equipped than I had assumed beforehand. We can only speculate how he pays for all this, given the ban on his regular work. It shows (again) how little we know about Iran. My final conclusion is that I did not regret keeping my tickets for this not-a-film, though I was entitled for a substitute at choice out of the festival program.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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