ARCHIVE REVIEW: This Is Not a Film


This Is Not a Film
Directed by: Jafar Panahi & Mojtaba Mirtahmasb
Starring: Jafar Panahi

Jafar Panahi is an Iranian filmmaker who was put under house arrest in 2010 and barred from making films for the next 20 years because the government deemed his work “propaganda.”  In this extraordinary exercise in silent protest, he documents a day in his life under house arrest while simultaneously illustrating the suffocating effect that a theocratic government has on art.

That’s quite a feat for a 75 minute movie that features just three people and a pet lizard on screen.  There is never any effort to sustain a narrative or in any way create to create illusion through technique.  Panahi’s friend and co-director Mojtaba Mirtahmasb is not a director, and largely just stands and zooms from one spot unless instructed by Panahi to move somewhere else.  It is in that forced lack of a narrative that the movie’s intentions begin to mirror the situation Panahi has been forced into, though.  He stages a couple scenes from an unmade screenplay, only to stop in the middle of it, frustrated that explaining a film takes away from the very essence of the art.

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