This Is Not a Film (In film nist) (2010)

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Released 18-Apr-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 75:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mojtaba Mirtahmasb
Jafar Panahi

Madman Entertainment
Starring Jafar Panahi
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Farsi Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     This Is Not a Film is, of course, a film-just don't tell that to the Iranian authorities. This intellectually stimulating and moving piece is a documentary/film about the persistence of art in the face of oppression. Jafar Panahi is a celebrated Iranian filmmaker. He has been making movies in his home country since 1988 and his films include the celebrated The White Balloon, The Circle, Crimson Gold and the recent Offside. All are in their own ways criticism of the oppression of the people, particularly the oppression of women, in his beloved country. I had the joy of reviewing Offside a film about the women who pretend to be men to enter a soccer game and found it funny and moving in equal measures.

     In 2010 Panahi was arrested and charged with sedition. The penalty imposed was severe - he is not to leave the country for 20 years, he was to serve six years in prison and, perhaps most damaging for this career filmmaker, he has banned from making films for 20 years. Hence This Is Not a Film. It may not be a film in the truest sense of the word, critic A.O. Scott described it as a masterpiece in a form that does not yet exist. The story behind the release of the film is also the stuff of cloak and dagger. Panahi smuggled the film out of Iran on a memory stick hidden inside a cake. The effect is to make personal a headline that would otherwise just reflect another example of artistic repression in a regime.

     So in this film, which is not a film, Panahi calls his friend Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and asks him to film his daily life. Released on bail awaiting the outcome of his appeal Panahi is on home detention and can't leave his comfortable apartment. He potters around eating breakfast, calling his lawyer and feeding his pet iguana. All this conveys a sense of a homebound person but Panahi also uses the opportunity to express his creativity, describing and blocking the screenplay for his next movie which had been rejected at script stage by the authorities. Ultimately it is a futile exercise. Panahi takes us through some of his films to show why stripped of its location and actorial innovations a script can't pass for a film.

     This all sounds a little intellectual and monotonous. In fact it is the very act of monotony that gives the film its emotional resonance. To see a passionate and committed filmmaker reduced to simply talking about the films he can't make is a sobering experience.

     This Is Not a Film may not have universal appeal. It blurs the lines between creativity and performance and documentary filmmaking. It is however an important film and a clarion call not to ignore his plight.

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Transfer Quality


     Audiences cannot expect too much in the way of perfection from the visual quality of this film. It was shot for the most part on digital video. In a brave or perhaps reckless move Panahi takes over at one point, using his mobile phone to capture image. Not surprisingly that footage is of poor quality. The digital photography is certainly adequate but not spectacular.

     The film comes to DVD in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

     The level of detail and sharpness of the image are adequate. The colours are a little bland, reflecting the comfortable prison in which Panahi currently finds himself. The flesh tones are accurate.

    There are subtitles in English.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     There is only one soundtrack for the film a Persian (Farsi) track being 2.0 Dolby Digital running at 224 Kb/s.

     This is perfectly adequate for this film which is essentially a creative documentary. The dialogue is clear and seems easy to understand including the telephone conversations. There are no technical defects with the sound.

     There is no music for the film and the only other sounds are fireworks in the distance and the various noises of everyday living.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     I can't find a reference to a Region 1 release. There appears to be a Region 2 (UK) release planned for August this year. Buy local and thank Madman.


     What does an artist do when his very reason for living has been taken away from him? Under threat of more serious charges making a film is not only a risky endeavour but the ultimate statement of defiance. Rather than a film this is described as (an effort) by Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb.

     The film looks and sounds exactly as it should.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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