|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Index||13 reviews in total|
16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Beethovenian, 24 May 2011
Author: Pierre Radulescu from United States
Iranian director Jafar Panahi is one of world's most important movie
makers nowadays, while also a victim of the oppressive regime in his
country. Arrested, together with other artists, during the events
following the Iranian presidential elections in 2009, he spent several
months in prison. He was freed then on bail while the judicial
procedure against him was going on. Mr. Panahi was eventually sentenced
to 6 years of prison and 20 years ban to make movies.
It was during the period spent at home in 2010 that Jafar Panahi made this movie, with the title This is Not a Film (In Film Nist). A friend, documentary producer Mojtaba Mirtahmasb (the author of Lady of the Roses, 2008), came with a consumer-grade camera and shot the footage for a 75 minutes video, having Mr. Panahi as co-director, screenwriter, film editor and star. The video was eventually smuggled outside Iran on a flash drive and screened at the 2011 Cannes Festival.
It's just that: 75 minutes in a day spent by Jafar Panahi at home, waiting for the result of the trial. He talks to the phone with his lawyer, then feeds his pet (who is a very nice iguana), then talks with the cameraman shooting the footage about a project for a new film, rejected by the censorship, memories from some of his movies come and go, suddenly a terrible noise of explosions is heard - it's nothing than fireworks, and Mr. Panahi goes to the window to shoot them with his cell phone.
A movie that is not a movie, says Mr. Panahi. It's just mundane reality. Well, it's not that simple: this movie is a non-movie while this non-movie is a movie. Because it's his reality, his universe, which is sending us to the universe of his movies. All his movies talk actually about him, about his universe, and it becomes obvious here, in this non-movie which carries all the tension between image and reality - reality sublimated in cinematic image. Like Mozart, this moviemaker thinks only in artistic constructions. For Mozart any fact of life was musical sound, musical rhythm, for Panahi every fact of life is cinematic image, cinematic rhythm. Look, even his concerns for the sentence to come become art! However, the strongest association should be made to Beethoven! This moviemaker carries all the tension between reality and art, all his creation is fully aware of the paradoxical relationship between reality and art: reality mirrored in art, art mirrored in reality, art suffering that reality struggles to keep its autonomy, reality suffering that it is taken for art.
18 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
An act of non-violent protest, 9 October 2011
Author: Howard Schumann from Vancouver, B.C.
Hidden inside a birthday cake and smuggled out of the country, the
75-minute "effort", This is Not a Film, tells us all we need to know
about the cruelty of the Iranian dictatorship and the courage of film
director Jafar Panahi. Panahi, who has given the world such
masterpieces as The White Balloon, The Circle, and Crimson Gold was
arrested in March, 2010 and faces a ban of twenty years from making
films and a six-year prison sentence for "propaganda against the
Islamic Republic." This refers to exercising free speech by speaking
out against the rigged elected of Iranian President Mahmoud
As part of his sentence, Panahi is barred from making films or writing screenplays, is unable to speak in his behalf, and forbidden to leave the country. While awaiting the results of his appeal, Panahi is filmed in his home by fellow director Mojtaba Mirtahmasb using a digital video camera and a cell phone. What begins as an innocuous home movie with Panahi sitting at his table eating breakfast takes on an added dimension when he calls Mirtahmasb, asking him to come by to discuss some ideas, but cautions him not to tell anyone about his visit.
While waiting for his friend to arrive, he talks on the phone with his lawyer who tells him that the court may waive the 20-year ban on filmmaking but are not likely to reduce his jail sentence. When Mirtahmasb arrives, Panahi reads from his latest screenplay which was rejected by the censors. Acting out the story, he puts tape around the area to suggest the apartment in which the story occurs. As he begins to read the screenplay about a young woman forbidden by her parents to attend university, tears come to his eyes and he stops, saying poignantly,
"If we could tell a film, then why make a film?" and expresses his regret about the harshness of the penalty he faces. Soon he takes care of his pet Iguana, Igi, and cares for a neighbor's dog who doesn't know the value of silence. As fireworks explode on the streets to celebrate the Persian New Year, a college student arrives to collect the trash as a substitute for the custodian, and the two engage in a dialogue, remembering the day when Panahi was arrested. To bring home the point even more forcefully, Panahi watches as a TV newscaster proclaims that fireworks are illegal. What started out as a home movie at the end becomes an act of non-violent protest.
10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
If not a film, then truly a beautiful poem., 6 November 2011
Author: jakobmyrhoj from Denmark
I saw this film (or not film, if you want..) at the CPH DOX festival
yesterday and was spellbound by it. All reviews I have read, have
focused on the political circumstances, and the fact that director
Jafar Panahi has been blacklisted and sentenced by the Iranian
government. I think many of these reviews focus too little on the
beauty, warmth and wonderfully subtle message of this film, or the
fresh and uplifting honesty and awareness of its cinematic language. To
me the most important and moving aspects of this film, is found in the
beauty of its atmosphere. In Panahis search for truth and honesty. In
its daring and courageous will to let circumstances and coincidence be
the writer and director. In its warm, original and surprisingly
humorous form. The way the film evolves trough coincidence and the
power of circumstance, it itself becomes a beautiful image of Mr.
Panahis situation, and by doing that, it becomes a reflection on any
persons situation, a reflection on existence itself. Dealing with
society, suppression, creativity, filmmaking, human interaction,
kindness and honesty I would find it difficult to explain what the film
is actually about. Most of all its much more a poetic journey, than a
political statement. If it is a statement its a statement of the
humane. I understand why some will be bored watching this small, slow,
quiet film. Any viewer will have to put himself in a state of slow
enjoyment to really benefit from it. But it is absolutely worth it. To
me one of the great achievements Mirtahmasb and Panahi makes here, is
the fact that they made me feel, think and reflect more by watching two
guys filming each other, than any million budget Hollywood movie has
ever done. The self aware style of this film worked like a wake up call
for me, making it so much stronger.
If you can relate to topics like: filmmaking, art, inspiration or problems connected to being a living being in the world, I highly recommend this. My best wishes for Mr. Panahi, and congratulations with the achievement.
6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
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
Author: JvH48 from Amersfoort, The Netherlands
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
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.
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Whether it's a film or not is irrelevant, it's a fantastic comment on the state of Iranian democracy, 6 December 2012
Author: octopusluke from Denmark
This Is Not A Film comes to audiences already with a high level of
notoriety. The famous film behind "cakegate", it's constricted
production meant that the film was distributed out of Iran on a USB
stick concealed inside a birthday cake. It's the kind of screwball
scenario you might find on a Judd Apatow movie, but This Is Not A Film
is no laughing matter. As the title would assume, this is not so much
of a film as it is a film exorcism.
Whilst under house arrest, and pursuing an appeal against a six year prison sentence and 20 year ban from directing, esteemed Iranian auteur Jafar Panahi (The Mirror, Crimson Gold) invites fellow filmmaker Mojtaba Mirtahmasb into his home to crudely document a day in his tormented life.
Shot on a digicam and later an iPhone, we follow Panahi shuffling around his apartment, feeding his daughter's pet iguana, paying the delivery boy for takeaway food, and calling his tenacious attorney trying to get him out of house arrest. At first, it's a minor study of segregation and loneliness, but This Is Not a Film is at it's most enthralling when Panahi expresses his natural directing flare; acting out his latest screenplay from the (dis)comfort of his family living room, discussing camera angles to the most minute detail, and reflecting on how he managed to reach such a raw level of intimacy in his previous works. Whether you are aware of his filmography or not, it's clear that Panahi is an exuberant cinephile, which makes his current, and ongoing battles with the government even more distressing.
If you were forced to judge this meta-commentary diatribe, one could suggest that Panahi and Mirtahmasb fail to present a bigger picture on the crisis of the state's dominance over artistic intent. Similarly to 2006′s female equality drama Offside, This is Not a Film is incredibly subtle with it's political allegories, bordering on the coyly parabolic. Instead of presenting a bigger, ultimately more controversial picture on the crisis of state dominance in the creative industries, Panahi and Mirtahmasb reach a palpable level of verisimilitude in the very smallness of the situation. It all comes together in a final twenty minute sequence where Panahi falls behind the camera and back into storyteller mode (it could cost him his life, but he can't help it). He follows a young dustman around the apartment block and asking him what his plans for the future will be. The cordial apprentice is unsure, but it's hopefully going to be a life less frightening than the one Panahi has been dealt.
This Is Not A Film concludes with harrowing sentiment. With the sound of New Years' Eve fireworks and cheering in the background, the screen fades to black, with the credits and special thanks nods are left blank, followed by a final frame that sets out a humble dedication to all Iranian filmmakers. It may be a non-film but, whatever it is, it's certainly a riveting watch; and has rightly earned a place in the Oscars' documentary award shortlist.
Here in the Western world, our access to information, democratic governments and human rights mean that cinema is taken for granted, and filmmakers have it easy. Whilst we bemoan the extortionate prices of popcorn, Panahi and Mirtahmasb are putting their lives on the line to tell the stories they feel they must tell, in the hope that, one day, their nation will be able to have the same sort of pro-democratic freedom as the rest of us.
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Brilliant act of courage., 31 August 2012
Author: manendra-lodhi (email@example.com) from India
This is not a film and also not a documentary in a proper sense. This
is a Video recording of two persons. But the good part is that within
the few minutes you will understand why this film had to be made. A
person cannot stop his talent for longer. This is happening with Jafar
Panahi, the Iranian director who is fighting with his government. He
has to stay inside his house without making films and he might go to
jail. In the middle you might feel a little bored because of no change
in location but eventually you will understand his limitations and the
desperation which caused him to make this.
PROS: The film is slow but to some extend you will want to forgive for everything. He tries to make the documentary interesting by telling some of his previous films experiences and those are really amazing. His pet will keep you alive all the time. In few words, I would say that this is one of the best documentaries.
CONS: Got a little bored in the middle.
Message: "Don't stop because of obstructions." Verdict: "A must watch documentary."
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A window into the oppressive state of a nation, as documented by Iranian film maker., 31 October 2012
Author: gregwetherall from United Kingdom
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Covering a day in the life of a man awaiting verdict from the Appeals
court in Iran comes a documentary with a very specific purpose; to
showcase the suffocating force exerted by the Iranian government on the
Film-maker Jafar Panahi is under house arrest. His crime? "Propaganda against the regime". Sounding positively Orwellian, his sentence is 6 years in prison, a 20 year ban on making films and a 20 year ban on leaving the country. Understandably, he is frustrated, worried and angry with, and at, the political system. Being forbidden to make the film he planned on making, he uses the time in his apartment to lay out the bare bones of his latest screenplay.
This documentary film, it is important to note, is not constructed under a conventional arc. It is openly improvised. You see a man unsure where to steer the piece as it moves along. He is uncertain if anyone will ever set their eyes on what he is filming, and the lack of certainty hangs over the documentary like an ominous invisible cloud. However, amongst all of this are some surreal moments. There is frequent footage of his pet iguana and his escapades within the confines of the apartment. This footage allows for some light to creep in amongst the varying shades of sombre. Generally speaking, this is an exercise in seeing a film maker stripped of the fourth wall, and in its place, an ordinary person performing creatively within their own four walls. Ironically, the most dramatic aspect of the film is one that does not form part of what we see, and is not even added as a post-script; the film had to be smuggled out of Iran on a memory card that was hidden inside a cake.
Thanks to the surreptitious nature of the film's construction and export, This Is Not A Film could not be any more accurate to its title. It is the epitome of a document that is oxymoronic; the film has a very specific purpose and reason to exist, yet it also plays out with no narrative sense of purpose in any conventional sense.
Arguably, the most compelling facet of the documentary is in the understanding of the context in which it was made.
Criticism of this film is hard to level, hence the non-rating that heads this review. Bizarrely, despite containing no linear narrative, no talking heads and no interviews, it still stands as a fascinating window peek into a government that is terrifying, petrifying, anaesthetising and nullifying the proletariat. There is no fancy camera work, and the lack of focus means that it would be hard to recommend this film as being one for repeat viewings.
Yet still, it is something that needs to be seen. In fact, it commands to be seen. It is a brave feat and endeavour. It is engrossing because the viewer is left to marvel at how it made its way to our screens at all. It is a contemporaneous note on present day Iran and a call to the wider world. A cry for freedom and the purity of free expression. It highlights the extent to which civil liberties have been robbed and denied from the creative industries by the state. The real victim is freedom of speech. Freedom of expression. It is a news bulletin without filter.
for more film reviews: toomuchnoiseblog.com (@toomuch_noise) and www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-wetherall
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The title is correct worth seeing as a political statement but mostly it is pretty dull, 2 March 2013
Author: bob the moo from Birmingham, UK
This film was roundly praised by the filmmaking community and stories
of it being smuggled out of Iran in a cake certainly helped to raise
awareness of the fate of Jafar Panahi. Unlike some, I shall not pretend
to be knowledgeable enough to have heard of him before this film, nor
to be a fan of his work (!) as others were keen to point out for me
this was a learning experience as I never heard of him. As such the
film was interesting in how it informed me about the situation and the
bigger picture. However it did this by simply existing before I'd
even watched a second of it, so what would the actual film bring to the
Well, the main thing is to illustrate the restraint of creativity by having Panahi "story-board" some of his existing script and also talk about some moments from his previous films. These moments are pretty engaging because he has a passion and he has a vision that comes over in these scenes. Other scenes add to his story and add value in this way, however too much of the film just illustrates his time in his house and his time stuck in the house is dull; dull for him and dull for us. In a way it is good to share this, but it doesn't engage the audience and by shooting whatever is said or happens, then it feels like there is no goal or structure to the film.
I can understand the logic and, as others have said, this is non-violent protest; Panahi has the chance to violently lash out with either direct verbal attacks or with snipe commentary and presentation, but he doesn't do this instead he peacefully sits down in front of the camera and makes this non-film as a peaceful protest against the situation, not hurting anyone. However this passive approach doesn't engage and it is increasingly dull as it has less and less to say. I know the film was beloved of festivals and lovers of cinema and I would love to claim beauty and emotion and be able to present myself a certain way, but this was not the case for me. The value in the film is not enough for the length and I was bored of it outside of the few sections I describe. I am very glad the film exists very glad indeed, but watching it is a very different matter.
Valiantly motivated experiment that mostly worked!!!, 9 April 2013
Author: Dave Lucas from Atlanta. Georgia
This Is Not a Film -
This movie definitely gets the "most interesting back-story" award for the year. Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi was punished for producing films that the government of his home land found objectionable with a sentence of six years in jail and a twenty year ban on the writing, directing, and/or production of films. While at home on bail awaiting the ruling of the appeals court, he began looking for ways around this. He already had one unproduced screenplay that he had written before the ban, which technically did not him from acting or reading screenplays that were already completed. He invited a friend who was a camera man over to tape him reading from (and to some extent, acting out) said screenplay. Technically, he was not disobeying the court order and technically "This (Was) Not a Film". Of course, these technicalities did not deter the film maker from cautiously smuggling the picture out of the country in a birthday cake before its release on the film festival circuit.
What starts out as a mere reading of the completed script ends up being a meditation on art, film-making, Iranian culture, and many other things. For fans of the director, it is an intriguing look into the mind of a master of his craft. For general audiences, it may be a little dry. I found it to be not only an interesting look into Panahi's thought processes, but into the plight of a film maker who loves his people but finds the constraints pf the oppressive government that rules them to be too constricting to allow the artistic process to flourish. Furthermore, it is a look into how any artist MUST struggle to express themselves no matter how difficult their current circumstances have made that task. If any of these themes sound particularly intriguing, by all means check the film out. If it doesn't sound like your particular cup of tea...as I said, a little dry...4 out of 5 stars.
Review brought to you by www.TheMovieFrog.com - Check us Out!!!
It's not a film; why am I reviewing it?, 18 March 2013
Author: Steve Pulaski from United States
In only seventy-six minutes, the "documentary" (if we can call it that)
This is Not a Film manages to do much in the way of silent rebellion,
documentation, personal-freedom, and expressionism in a beautifully
unconventional sense. It focuses on director Jafar Panahi, who was
criminally silenced by the Iranian government for making films deemed
as "propaganda." During this particular time, and in current times,
Panahi is prohibited from making films and affiliating himself with any
types of films. This fact alone makes This is Not a Film bolder and one
of the most ostentatious documentaries ever made; mainly because it's a
project that never was supposed to even be a thought in Panahi's head.
We see Panahi, alone in his large high-rise apartment, go about his daily activities, which include eating breakfast, playing with his daughter's iguana named Igi, analyzing his older films in a very deep sense, acting out scenes from his movies, and repeatedly calling his attorney to get a ruling on his case. Because of his "propaganda" films, Panahi has the potential to face six years in prison and the possibility of never directing another film again. This is a scary thought for a man who is clearly not our of words to say.
The naturalism and simplicity is what immediately sold me on this film. It's not hard to tell that much of this picture was comprised on Panahi's spontaneous thoughts. Nothing is very consistent; not all of it is particularly compelling, but all of it is truly a sight to behold. This is Not a Film, in order to receive distribution, was put on a flash drive and smuggled out of Iran in a cake, making this a truly unique picture just in its story. How many films (or "films") can you say you've seen that really shouldn't have been made? While my biggest compliment to the "film" is its naturalism and biographical nature, it also is my most prominent complaint. Many things happen here, some interesting, some not, making this experience fluctuate in quality more-so than any other picture I've seen this year. A strong part of me absolutely lauds Panahi for his bravery and commitment to get his "film" released, yet because of its loose, lax nature, I question why he chose to make it more about his typical day instead of voicing an opinion on the cruelty of the Iranian government. Now, I realize how deviant and asking that sounds, seeing as it was incalculably daring for Panahi to make a film at all. But why not go for broke if you chose to go back on a law at all? Why not question or defend the "propaganda" accusation his films now bear? Why not take in account how you really feel about this whole thing? However, one surprisingly elegant thing he does in This is Not a Film is question what exactly a film is? Moreover, does this picture he's making now count as a film? Is it "illegal" that he's getting his pal Mojtaba Mirtahmasb to film much of it on a cell-phone camera? Is it because it's spontaneous, and follows a very non-linear style that it doesn't qualify as a film? Does a film need to be a certain length to be constituted that? Does anything need to happen? I was reminded of those short films I always find myself watching on Youtube from the late 1800's to the early 1900's of little skits or documentaries that briefly regard life/humor/culture of a country at that specific time. Were they films? They never seemed to follow a strict plot line.
This is Not a Film is something people from all countries (especially America) should watch in order to truly view how repressed, censored, and limited other countries can be. In America, grotesque films like The Human Centipede can be made, showcasing disgust and loathe at its height, 2016: Obama's America can be made, a film that deliberately regards almost everything the current US president says as lies and cites his motives as unworthy, and The Hangover Part II can be made, a raunchy comedic exercise capitalizing off lewdness and politically incorrect humor. The fact that This is Not a Film came to be may sit indifferently with people from America, but the fact that it exists is an astonishing landmark for Iranian freedom of speech. While I can't recommend this work in an overbearing nature, if you go to a video store and find it there, it is probably the one you should pick up for its importance and bold roots. But since it isn't a film, I technically should be reviewing it or saying any of this.
Starring: Jafar Panahi. Directed by: Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb.
|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Official site||Plot keywords||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|