Friday, October 7, 2011

NYFF 2011: This is Not a Film (2011)

The camera's must keep recording

Highly touted and much heralded "important" film for the festival actually lives up to the hype. This is simply put one of the best films at the Festival so far. It's getting one screening on October 13th and you owe it to yourself to go see it.

The film is a day in the house arrested life of Jafar Panahi. He's waiting to hear what happens with his appeal of his sentence for making a film the Iranian government didn't like. He's been sentenced to 6 years in prison and is to be banned from making a film, writing a screenplay or leaving the country for 20 years. Needing to pass the time he calls up his friend and documentary filmmaker Mojtaba Mirtahmasb to come over and go over somethings with him. What transpires is a look back on his films, a semi performance of the film he was making, and a look at his life and the life in Tehran.

I loved it.

I didn't think I would. The film starts with a groan inducing filmmaker films his own breakfast/phone calls. Its been done to death and I had fears that this was going to be something along the lines of Tahrir's home video approach.

I shouldn't have worried because very quickly the film shifts gears and it hooks you in the time it takes from the film to simply cut from one shot to another. In literally the split second I went from not wanting to see any more to willingly wanting to follow it anywhere. Talk about the magic of the movies.

This wonderful film is not only a day in the life, but also examines life in Iran (and what it takes to get by there), the need to create, the need to record, and just the human condition. Yes it's a trip through the life of the director, but as things happen and as we reflect on them we begin to realize that some how there are other issues at play.

When it was done I wanted to see it again.

I can't recommend this film enough.

I have no idea if the film has secured a regular US release but I hope it has, partly because it may help keep Jafar Panahi out of prison but also because it's a damn good film and I want to spend more time with the people inside it.

(And you have to see his pet lizard....)

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