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on 21 September 2012
Covering a day in the life of a man awaiting verdict from the Appeals court in Iran comes a documentary with a very specific purpose; to showcase the suffocating force exerted by the Iranian government on the artistic community.

Film-maker Jafar Panahi is under house arrest. His crime? "Propaganda against the regime". Sounding positively Orwellian, his sentence is 6 years in prison, a 20 year ban on making films and a 20 year ban on leaving the country. Understandably, he is frustrated, worried and angry with, and at, the political system. Being forbidden to make the film he planned on making, he uses the time in his apartment to lay out the bare bones of his latest screenplay.

This documentary film, it is important to note, is not constructed under a conventional arc. It is openly improvised. You see a man unsure where to steer the piece as it moves along. He is uncertain if anyone will ever set their eyes on what he is filming, and the lack of certainty hangs over the documentary like an ominous invisible cloud. However, amongst all of this are some surreal moments. There is frequent footage of his pet iguana and his escapades within the confines of the apartment. This footage allows for some light to creep in amongst the varying shades of sombre. Generally speaking, this is an exercise in seeing a film maker stripped of the fourth wall, and in its place, an ordinary person performing creatively within their own four walls. Ironically, the most dramatic aspect of the film is one that does not form part of what we see, and is not even added as a post-script; the film had to be smuggled out of Iran on a memory card that was hidden inside a cake.

Thanks to the surreptitious nature of the film's construction and export, This Is Not A Film could not be any more accurate to its title. It is the epitome of a document that is oxymoronic; the film has a very specific purpose and reason to exist, yet it also plays out with no narrative sense of purpose in any conventional sense.

Arguably, the most compelling facet of the documentary is in the understanding of the context in which it was made.

Criticism of this film is hard to level, hence the non-rating that heads this review. Bizarrely, despite containing no linear narrative, no talking heads and no interviews, it still stands as a fascinating window peek into a government that is terrifying, petrifying, anaesthetising and nullifying the proletariat. There is no fancy camera work, and the lack of focus means that it would be hard to recommend this film as being one for repeat viewings.

Yet still, it is something that needs to be seen. In fact, it commands to be seen. It is a brave feat and endeavour. It is engrossing because the viewer is left to marvel at how it made its way to our screens at all. It is a contemporaneous note on present day Iran and a call to the wider world. A cry for freedom and the purity of free expression. It highlights the extent to which civil liberties have been robbed and denied from the creative industries by the state. The real victim is freedom of speech. Freedom of expression. It is a news bulletin without filter.

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on 29 August 2012
I happened to catch this movie in a theatre in Washington, DC some months ago. I had heard about the amazing circumstances surrounding this documentary (more on that later), and couldn't wait to see this for myself.

"This Is Not a Film" (2011 release from Iran; 75 min.) is nothing more, nothing less than Iranian dirctor Jafar Panahi filming life in his apartment on a digital camcorder. Indeed, as Panahi explains to us, he is under house arrest (for reasons not fully explained) and barred from film-making by the Iranian authorities. Panahi has a script written for a new film and with the help of a friend, he decides to read the script to us and live out the script as best as possible in his apartment. Alas, that is not practical (a frustrated Panahi exclaims "If we could tell the film, why make the film?"). In the last part of the film another of Panahi's friends comes to the apartment and the two men simply discuss the daily struggles, and then take out the garbage as we see Teheran and hear explosions in the background.

As mentioned, the movie itself is rather ordinary (although you can feel the tension throughout the movie), but the circumstances surrounding this movie are nothing short of jaw-dropping. Defying a total ban on film-making by the Iranian authorities, Panahi was upon its completion able to smuggle this out of Iran on a flash-drive with the help of friends, and this documentary made its dramatic debut at the 2011 Cannes film festival. I feel like every time someone is watching this movie, it is providing a stance of support to Panahi and a raised middle finger to the Iranian government. For historical purposes, this movie is a must-see, period. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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on 16 November 2014
This film is actually quite moving but at the same time not very interesting to watch. Yes it is terribly sad the way Jafar Panahi has been treated by the Iranian authorities and this is a clear example of the kind of terrible human rights abuses that occur both in Iran and around the world.

Jafar spends the film acting like a caged animal prowling around his flat imprisoned by the authorities and unable to do what he loves. He is reduced to reading out the script to his latest film because he has been banned from making it. Sad but true.
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on 29 February 2016
This is not a film, it is a work of pure genius that shows the human imagination is our greatest gift. Banned from making films by the Iranian government, Panahai, a most liekable sort of chap, get a friend and using the confines of his flat he goes through what he would have filmed had he been allowed to. You just get so lost in both his story and the one he wants to tell in teh film he cannoit make, that you will forget where you are and when it is over you will want to return to that amazing world.
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on 3 September 2015
To me it is a postmodern movie, quite innovative techniques due to Panahi's condition that he is not allowed to make a movie.
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on 20 April 2016
About a filmmaker in Iran who has been charged with making inappropriate films. He is under house arrest so he decides to make a 'Rear Window' type documentary where he records a day of his life as he talks on the phone, watches television, and eventually chats with some guys and rides an elevator. All subtitled, some of which is on a white background making it unreadable. Occasional insight.
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on 22 November 2015
Interesting concept
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on 4 April 2013
All in order, the product was received quickly and in order. I am very satisfied with it. I advise to watch this film, btw.
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