Netflix Summary: When the Iranian government banned director Jafar Panahi from making a film for 20 years, he titled his next project This Is Not a Film. The resulting documentary covers a day in Panahi's life as he reflects on his unhappy situation.
This “non-film” tells you more about film-art than almost all other films put-together. Reminds you why a regime would like to control this medium – Panahi, trying to tell what his film would have been like, falls short and asks (almost tearfully), “If you could tell a film, then why make the film?”. Going back to Crimson Gold he demonstrates “A film must be made before you can explain it” - you can't even plan it! Shows us how “realism” is an impossible ideal even for a “documentary”.
|The make-believe set of the film Panahi couldn't make.|
The opening shot that he describes – reminded me of the opening of Mani Kaul's Satah Se Uthata Aadmi, another film that tries to capture the beauty of one medium into another. At another level, it is like early Lars von Trier – a filmmaker struggling to control and understand what the medium can achieve. What shines thru is the pain of not being able to say what the filmmaker wants to – Panahi's rebellion against the ruling is the most undramatic call for action ever. He isn't trying to simplify things, he isn't even asking the world to act – he is just gearing up for whatever action he can be part of, all by himself.
Towards the end, Panahi picks up an abandoned camera and breaks the boundaries of “house-arrest”. One of the most wonderful use of POV shot – one doesn't really know if it was him or not. The POV shot makes us wonder who it is who is seeing what we see - again much like Satah Se Uthata Aadmi. But the political implications are stunning – the effect on the audience unparalleled.
A great film. Among the best ever.