This Is Not a Film

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This Is Not a Film
This is Not a Film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jafar Panahi
Mojtaba Mirtahmasb
Produced by Jafar Panahi
Starring Jafar Panahi
Mojtaba Mirtahmasb
Cinematography Jafar Panahi
Mojtaba Mirtahmasb
Edited by Jafar Panahi
Distributed by Kanibal Films Distribution (France)
Release date(s)
  • May 20, 2011 (2011-05-20) (Cannes)
Running time 76 minutes
Country Iran
Language Persian

This Is Not a Film (Persian: In film nist - این فیلم نیست‎) is an Iranian documentary film by Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb.[1] It was released on 28 September 2011 in France, distributed by Kanibal Films Distribution.[2] The film was smuggled from Iran to Cannes in a flash drive hidden inside a birthday cake. It was specially screened at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and later at the New York Film Festival, and others. It also took part in the International Competition of the 27th Warsaw International Film Festival.


Panahi is under house arrest, awaiting the result of his appeal of a six-year prison sentence and twenty-year ban on film-making, leaving the country or giving media interviews for "propaganda against the regime". Bored and desperate that this verdict may mean his artistic death, he starts documenting his life. He begins filming himself in his apartment, then calls his friend and collaborator, Mirtahmasb, who arrives at the apartment and takes over the camera. Banned from film making and determined to save at least some of his artistic visions, Panahi reads some of the scenario from the movie he was planning to make. Upon hearing fireworks marking the ancient Iranian festival Chaharshanbe Suri that precedes the Persian new year, Nouruz, and other suspicious noises resembling gunshots, he gets scared and quickly stops this project. He turns on the TV to hear the news. We see news about the tsunami in Japan and later it is announced that Iran's president has banned any fireworks and bonfires that used to mark Chaharshanbe Suri.

After Mr. Mirtahmasb's departure, Panahi takes his friend's camera and starts chatting with the boy who collects the litter in the apartment block since one of his relatives was not able to come that day, Panahi asks him questions about his life and plans for the future. This conversation takes places in the claustrophobic scenery of a lift, as the boy goes down from floor to floor and ever so often gets out of the lift to do his job. The movie ends with the boy putting the trash can out on the street, as revelers throw gasoline on a fire. While Panahi watches and shoots video from the ramp leading down to his building's underground garage (as far, it seems, as he dare go), the boy jumps over the fire taking part in the celebration.


This Is Not a Film has garnered critical acclaim. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives a score of 99% based on reviews from 88 critics, with an average rating of 8.9/10, and the site's consensus is: "Through simple means and filming, This is Not a Film presents a vital political statement and a snapshot of life in Iran as enemy of the state." [3]

Sight & Sound film magazine listed this at #8 on its list of best film of 2012.[4] Calling This Is Not A Film one of the top 10 movies of 2012, critic Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post said the movie "uses Brechtian staging, blurred lines between documentary and drama, and an iPhone to explore the notion of physical and political boundaries, the aesthetic and technological contours of cinema, and the enduring power of self-expression."[5] Critic A. O. Scott of The New York Times rated This Is Not a Film the fourth best documentary of 2012.[6] He called the film a "brave and witty video diary, an essay on the struggle between political tyranny and the creative imagination." In December 2012 it was shortlisted as one of 15 films eligible for Best Documentary Feature at the 85th Academy Awards.[7]


  1. ^ Smith, Ian Hayden (2012). International Film Guide 2012. p. 148. ISBN 978-1908215017. 
  2. ^ Ceci n'est pas un film Allocine index. Retrieved 30 September.(French)
  3. ^ "This Is Not a Film (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Hornaday, Ann (December 7, 2012). "Ann Hornaday's ten best films of 2012". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  6. ^ Scott, A. O. (December 14, 2012). "25 Favorites From A Year When 10 Aren't Enough". The New York Times. Retrieved December 14, 2012. 
  7. ^ "15 Documentary Features Advance In 2012 Oscar® Race". 2012-12-22. Retrieved 2012-12-25. 

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