“Now how can I really express myself inside that boundary with the lines I drew? How can I tell the sense and feeling in this kind of film? Not possible.” These are the words of the celebrated Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who is frustrated as he watches scenes from earlier work, and attempts to visualize his new film—the production of which was cut short by his arrest—on the carpet at home.
Panahi made this “not-a-film” while he was under house arrest, awaiting the appeal he had made against a previously imposed prison sentence and a ban prohibiting him from making films. This documentary was smuggled out of the country on a USB stick, hidden inside a cake, to have its premiere at the 64th Cannes Film Festival.
This Is Not a Film shows a day in the life of this isolated filmmaker, and is dedicated to Iranian filmmakers whose work is being made impossible by the regime. In July 2022, when he went to the prosecutor’s office to inquire about the situation of film director Mohammad Rasoulof, who had been arrested earlier, Panahi was detained and brought to the infamous Evin prison.