In March 2010 Jafar Panahi, one of Iran’s most internationally known and award winning film makers was arrested for committing propaganda against the Iranian Government. The staunch anti regime director was banned from film making and scriptwriting for 20 years and as of 2011 was under house arrest, awaiting the appeal of a six year jail sentence. While wasting his days at home, Panahi gets the idea to ask a fellow director to visit him and pick up a camera. Mojtaba Mirtahmasb films Panahi in his high rise apartment as he watches TV, takes phone calls and runs through his most recently rejected screenplay, careful all the while to avoid making a film.
Jafar Panahi isn’t a film maker I’d previously come across and in a strange twist of fate, had the Iranian government not imprisoned him, it is possible that myself and many others would have lived out our lives without knowledge of the man or his films. What Panahi does with This is Not a Film is to give the viewer a fascinating insight into the mind of a tortured man as well as the mind of a film maker. Panahi often explains his predicament through the use of film clips and draws on his back catalogue to provide parallels between himself and his characters. The film is truly absorbing.