This Is Not a Film. Panahi at DAFilms

This week, DAFilms brings the first film made by Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi and his colleague Mojtaba Mirtahmasb after Panahi’s filmmaking ban.

“This film is a samizdat cine-poem in defence of cinema and freedom: the only response is contempt for those government bullies and bureaucrats ranged against Jafar Panahi,” wrote Peter Bradshaw for UK’s Guardian.

Jafar Panahi, one of the key figures of the Iranian New Wave, director of films such as Offside and The White Balloon, winner of Venice Film Festival and Locarno International Film Festival for The Mirror and The Circle, was sentenced to 6 years in prison and a 20-year ban on filmmaking in his native country in 2010. Due to international pressure, the prison sentence was mitigated, however, the ban on filmmaking still continues. Yet Panahi continues making films. This Is Not a Film was his first film made under these circumstances. He shot it at home together with documentarist and friend Mojtaba Mirtahmasb. According to them, the film was smuggled out of Iran in a flash drive hidden inside a cake. Panahi’s third film Taxi won at Berlinale in 2015.

“If this is not a film, by all means let us have many more such not-a-films,” such is the closing line of a text written by Phillip Lopate for Film Comment. He also comments on the original film form straddling documentary and feature film: “The premise is that we are watching an artless home movie documenting a day in the life of Panahi as he awaits the court’s final decision. In fact, the film was shot over the course of a week—some parts written, some sketched out, and others serendipitous—with a combination of HD camera and low-definition camera phone, and, despite the graininess of the latter, most of it looks pretty smooth. (...) Iranian cinema has often traded in such self-reflexive moves, letting meta- collide with neorealism. Panahi conducts a little seminar on using nonprofessional actors in his films, approving the way they often come up with surprising bits that he could never have thought of, or refuse the “lie” of acting. In doing so, they direct him. But this time, he is the actor, directing himself, and he does a good job of animating what might have been an inert situation.“

Whether This Is Not a Film is a film or not, whether it is documentary or not, whether its title alludes to Michel Foucault or is rather a joke at the expense of Iranian establishment and their ban, watch it!

And watch more Iranian films at

The film is available for free in the Czech Republic only. It is not available in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Chile, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, USA. is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.

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