In December of 2010, the Iranian government sentenced filmmaker Jafar Panahi to six years in jail and banned him from making any films, traveling abroad, or speaking to the press for 20 years. His crime was being associated with the Green Movement in Iran following the controversial (and possibly rigged) 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
As an act of protest, Panahi made the documentary This is Not a Film with the help of Mojtaba Mirtahmasb. It’s simply Panahi in his apartment awaiting the result of his appeal, but it apparently presents an intriguing look at the struggles that Iranian artists face in their home country. This is Not a Film was smuggled out of Iran on a flash drive hidden inside of a birthday cake.
I’m really interested in seeing this even though I haven’t watched that much Iranian cinema. Sure, there was last year’s phenomenal A Separation by Asghar Farhadi and I’ve seen many great movies from Majid Majidi and Abbas Kiarostami, but This is Not a Film looks like a different animal. It seems potent and urgent given that Panahi’s artistic future (and much more) is at stake.