Sunday, May 29, 2011

Loathe... Filmmaker Jafar Panahi's Forced Anti-Film

George Bernard Shaw once said “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.” But what happens when a crude reality makes producing the art you live for impossible? For Jafar Panahi the result is a truly courageous anti-film aptly titled “This Is Not A Film.
The 75 minute "film" which premiered last week at Cannes Film Festival chronicles the heartbreaking aftermath of filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s sentencing of six years in prison by the Tehran Revolutionary Court for “colluding with the intention to commit crimes against the country’s national security and propaganda against the Islamic Republic”--otherwise known as, planning a fictional film based on the controversial 2009 election that resulted with the rather divisive Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Presidency. While Panahi hasn’t seen the inside of a jail cell yet, struggling through appeals—he has been banned for 20 years from making movies, writing screenplays, traveling abroad and giving interviews.
So, it goes without saying that Panahi’s “This Is Not A Film” is not a film. It also goes without saying that if it were a film, there is no reason in the world why it shouldn’t be allowed to be one. Mysteriously sent in a USB stick to France, inside a cake no less, the project is referred to as an "effort" by Panahi and fellow filmmaker-turned-criminal Mohammad Rasoulof and blank screens appear where credits traditionally roll.

Brave and daring, Panahi’s film reveals the crushing realities of oppression and corruption—at one point Panahi’s lawyer breaks the news that jail-time is eminent—but also the triumph of an artist and his life’s work.

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