// Presented as part of Filmatique's The Creation of Meaning Series //
Spotlight on This Is Not a Film
Jafar Panahi / 2011, Cannes, CPH:DOX, Dubai, Mar del Plata, New York Film Festival, Sofia / 76'
Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi is under house-arrest, awaiting sentencing for anti-regime activities and banned from filmmaking for 20 years. He calls his collaborator Mojtaba Mirtahmasb on the phone and talks about not making films, drinks tea, and plays with his daughter's iguana. All the while he films himself with a commercial-grade HD camera and his iPhone, making sure not to call cut. A brief respite occurs when Panahi steps onto his balcony as the sun sets across Tehran, its streetlights glittering in the distance.
Depicting the day-to-day life of one of Iran's most celebrated filmmakers, This is Not a Film is a powerful testament to the malleability of artistic expression and the resilience required to survive under systems of oppression. Apparently smuggled into Cannes on a USB drive hidden inside a birthday cake, This is Not a Film premiered at Mar del Plata, New York, Dubai, where it won the Muhr AsiaAfrica Award for Best Documentary; and Sofia, where it won the UNESCO Award for Best Documentary.
"Jailed director Jafar Panahi's agonizing non-film heaps shame on the Iranian government… This film is a samizdat cine-poem in defense of cinema and freedom: the only response is contempt for those government bullies and bureaucrats ranged against Jafar Panahi"
- Peter Bradshaw, Film Review, The Guardian