Tuesday, April 17, 2012

100% This Is Not a Film

This is as a fascinating bit of minimalism as there has been in quite a long time, not only for its insights into the state of censorship in Iran(from what I can infer, Jafar Panahi's arrest sounds like something out of "Hawaii 5-0,") but for its symbolism in capturing a day in the life of Jafar Panahi, trapped inside waiting for loved ones to return on New Year's Day with fireworks going off just outside. So it may come as no surprise that the only identifiable movie on his DVD rack is "Buried" starring Ryan Reynolds. In all honesty, I don't think 'This is Not a Film' was really meant to be a title in a conventional sense. Rather, it is meant to possibly to work around the Iranian authorities' sentencing Panahi to six years of prison and 20 years without directing, writing a film or giving interviews.(His lawyer thinks there is a chance he could have the prohibitions thrown out and his sentence reduced but he is still going to jail.) All of which he bares up under with humor and fatalism. So, that only leaves him to talk about his old films in pointing out how little control he has had over his amateur casts in the past. To accentuate this, his pet iguana(which is bigger than most cars, by the way) takes center stage at times. So, he stages scenes from what would have been his latest film about a young woman who wants to attend university in Tehran over her traditional parents' wishes. This all comes about when Mojtaba Mirtahmasb conceives of a behind the scenes series on banned directors.(Another way of looking at it, is as they put it, when hairdressers get bored, they do each others' hair.) Even though Panahi does not want to appeal to other Iranian directions which might get them in trouble also, Mirtahmasb also is currently in hot water, too. And finally, the real reason for this being made, is as Panahi puts it, to petition for international pressure, or in other words, us.

March 11, 2012

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