Director Jafar Panahi has said, "I am an Iranian. I am staying in my country and I like to work in my country. I love my country. I have paid a price for this love too, and am willing to pay again if necessary." The price, so far, has been his arrest, being sentenced to six years in jail, and having a 20 year filmmaking ban imposed on him. But Pahani is a fighter who can dish it out as well as take it. Last year, while under house arrest waiting for the outcome of his appeal, he made a home video mocking the ban order on his filmmaking. Technically, the work is not a film, hence the title, This Is Not a Film.
Trapped in his apartment, the director doesn’t have a wide choice of locations for his unfilm. There’s the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, and the balcony, with one intriguing dialog taking place in the building elevator. As for the casting, Panahi is necessarily the lead actor, with the family’s pet iguana and the building janitor performing supporting roles. There is also a cameo appearance by the neighbor’s yapping lapdog. I won’t emphasize the contribution of documentary filmmaker Mojtaba Mirtahmasb to this unfilm because he’s already in enough trouble with the authorities. Let’s just pretend he showed up at the apartment to lend Panahi a camera and to show him how to use it. In fact we hear Mirtahmasb clearly remind Panahi on tape that he shouldn’t say “cut” because that would constitute directing. Panahi obliges from then on.
Lucky for Panahi, the narrative unfolds on Chaharshanbeh Souri when celebrating Iranians bombard their cities with fireworks and explosives. As Panahi acquaints us with the indomitable spirit of an artist being slowly suffocated by repression, a blazing drama rages outside, shaking the windows with explosions. Of course this timing was just a coincidence and Panahi wasn’t really using his brilliance as a filmmaker to add meaning, message, and symbolism to a humble home video. God forbid he should defy his 20 year ban on filmmaking.
It would be a tragedy to take This Is Not a Film simply as the lamentations of an artist cut off from his art because it is also a cry for help and a call to action. We overhear Panahi discuss his appeal process on the telephone with friends. He seems to be telling the world that international pressure can help him. He wouldn’t refuse domestic supporters, but worries about the risks to them. Ultimately though, This Is Not a Film is just art. In the final shot, the building janitor who Panahi has filmed collecting trash floor by floor pushes the residents’ haul of garbage towards a huge bonfire outside the building gates. If this were a film, I would say it had symbolic a happy ending!
|Recently by Ari Siletz||Comments||Date|
چرا مصدق آسوده نمی خوابد.
|Aug 17, 2012|
|This blog makes me a plagarist|
|Aug 16, 2012|
|Double standards outside the boxing ring|
|Aug 12, 2012|
|نسرین ستوده: زندانی روز||Dec 04|
|Saeed Malekpour: Prisoner of the day||Lawyer says death sentence suspended||Dec 03|
|Majid Tavakoli: Prisoner of the day||Iterview with mother||Dec 02|
|احسان نراقی: جامعه شناس و نویسنده ۱۳۰۵-۱۳۹۱||Dec 02|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Prisoner of the day||46 days on hunger strike||Dec 01|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Graffiti||In Barcelona||Nov 30|
|گوهر عشقی: مادر ستار بهشتی||Nov 30|
|Abdollah Momeni: Prisoner of the day||Activist denied leave and family visits for 1.5 years||Nov 30|
|محمد کلالی: یکی از حمله کنندگان به سفارت ایران در برلین||Nov 29|
|Habibollah Golparipour: Prisoner of the day||Kurdish Activist on Death Row||Nov 28|