Documentary Review : This is Not a Film (2012)

IMDB Score – 7.5
Rotten Tomato Score – 98%
Netflix Instant Watch

Directed By – Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Jafar Panahi

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.

At only an hour and seventeen minutes, this short film said a lot to me without really saying anything at all. I’m not sure if any of it was intended by the film makers but what they created was a subtle political stance against the censorship of cinema and the right to creation. Jafar Panahi, a well known Iranian film maker responsible for such films as “Crimson Gold” and “Mirror”, pretty much gets bored one day in his apartment and decides to film himself doing ordinary things such as answering phone calls and reading emails. Mojtaba Mirtahmasb is called to come over and help Panahi with some ideas which turns into Panahi dictating a screenplay that he wasn’t allowed to make. Panahi lays tape on the floor to convey a room and he dictates how the camera moves and which direction it’s facing. A man who is certain to go to jail and facing a 20 year ban of making films, is making a film in his apartment, yet there is no film. He’s simply telling a story.

The title is correct. This is not a film. It’s merely a day in the life of Panahi with no direction or plot but what comes out of this day is very powerful. Hindering somebodies creative urges is inhumane as we can see what people will start to do to feed their passion. I honestly can’t really talk more about this film as it’s way too short and very quiet in relaying its message. It’s a film to be experienced by the viewer and taken for what they see it. Considering it’s such a short watch I can’t recommend seeing it enough.


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