Tuesday, May 28, 2019

2019 Blind Spot Series: This is Not a Film

Directed, shot, and starring Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, This is Not a Film is the story of Panahi’s house arrest following a sentence from the Iranian government that bans him from making films for 20 years as he meets with family, friends, and his attorney trying to appeal his six-year jail sentence. The film is a documentary feature that shows Panahi’s day-to-day life as he endures his time at home but would find ways to at least tell a story. The result is an intoxicating and riveting film from Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb.

Shot at an apartment in Tehran in the course of 10 days, the film follows filmmaker Jafar Panahi awaiting word on his appeal following a conviction from the Iranian government over claims of propaganda against the regime as he is given a six-year prison sentence plus a ban from filmmaking for 20 years. Gathering material of four from a ten-day shoot, Panahi and co-director Mojtaba Mirtahmasb discuss the appeal as well as the projects Panahi wanted to do. During the course of these ten days in March of 2011 where Panahi would watch news about the 2011 Tohuku earthquake and tsunami as well as have phone conversations with his lawyer, family members, and a few friends about being on house arrest.

With Mirtahmasb following Panahi around his apartment with a digital camcorder and Panahi carrying his iPhone, Panahi is also at home watching the family’s pet lizard Igi who would steal the show at times either walking on walls or a couch. Panahi would show Mirtahmasb a script he is working on as well as what he would’ve done for the film’s opening scene using tape on the carpet as an example where Mirtahmasb would shoot from above. There are moments where Panahi becomes emotional over the idea of never making a film again but he is determined to find a way as he and Mirtahmasb would use their cameras to find something even as Panahi would watch a building being built from his balcony as both men serve as cinematographers for the film.

Since it was shot in 10 days and the idea of a day-to-day routine can be boring but Panahi who would edit the film would he would also tell Mirtahmasb when to stop shooting or when to cut. Even as he would also talk about his ideas and use his own films as a frame of reference. Sound editor/visual effects compositor Javad Emami would gather some of the phone conversations that Panahi is having while there are scenes of Panahi interacting with neighbors including a young man collecting garbage in one single take during a holiday that had been banned by the government leading to protests outside of the building. For Panahi, he would film all of this where he would take a major risk for its ending as it is more about the chance for Iranians to tell their own stories without government or religion to restrict them.

This is Not a Film is a tremendous film from Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb. It’s an unconventional documentary film that explore the idea of censorship and restriction where a filmmaker is able to tell a story despite the severe limitations he endures from his own government. It’s also a documentary that also play into the ordinary aspects of life and how someone can find wonder in the ordinary. In the end, This is Not a Film is a sensational film from Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb.

Jafar Panahi Films: (The White Balloon) – (The Mirror (1997 film)) – (The Circle (2000 film)) – (Crimson Gold) – Offside (2006 film) - (Closed Curtain) – (Taxi (2015 film)) – (3 Faces)

© thevoid99 2019

1 comment:

Brittani Burnham said...

I remember reading about this but I never saw it. Thank you for the reminder!