50 Documentaries to See Before You Die

This Is Not a Film (2011)

Director: Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Jafar Panahi

This Is Not a Film is a testament to filmmaking itself. Shot largely on an iPhone, director/subject Jafar Panahi's unique and mesmerizing doc captures his time spent while under house arrest in his native Iran, a penalty spurring from his having made films considered to be pro-protesters and anti-state. Even though he's also been banned from making movies from 20 years, Panahi still does what he does best, though, on the surface, it doesn't appear to be a whole lot. He talks to his lawyer on the phone. He hangs out with his pet iguana, Igi. He reads from a screenplay that's been unapproved by the state's censor board.

What he's also doing the entire time, though, and what makes This Is Not a Film so quietly crucial, is encapsulating all that makes cinema so important. As long as there are cameras of any kind, even ones on cellular phones, artists will speak their minds and rebel against "the man." —MB

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