The new documentary by Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb This Is Not A Film is compelling viewing. The film may be simple but it’s why we’re seeing it that is so interesting, essential and infuriating. It is no secret that the film was smuggled out of Iran and into France so it could be screened at Cannes earlier this year.
While under house arrest we watch a day in the life of Panahi. He goes about regular activity while waiting to hear if the sentence handed down to him in December 2010 of six years jail and a 20 year ban on making or directing movies, writing screenplays, giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media or leaving the country has been lifted or altered in appeal.
We see a man who has been stripped of the means to do what he does best, what he has such passion for; make films. It’s heartbreaking. At one point Panahi is describing to his friend the last screenplay he put forward for approval (which was denied) and has never been made. He is so alive describing in such fine detail this screenplay, but also has the knowledge it will never exist.
This is a must see film.
This Is Not A Film is being released at selected cinemas in Australia by Sharmill Films on November 10.
Postscript: In late October a Tehran appeals court upheld a six-year jail sentence and 20-year filmmaking and travel ban against Jafar Panahi. More on this at The Guardian or Yahoo7 (originally from AFP).