Ty Burr: 9. “This is Not a Film”
In “Argo,” we see the Iranian theocracy holding 60 Americans hostage. In Jafar Panahi’s withering documentary self-portrait, we see that same theocracy, three decades on, holding one of its citizens in the limbo of house arrest. Panahi is a filmmaker whose features are about the hopes and frustrations of ordinary Iranians; consequently, the government considers him a threat. “This Is Not a Film,” a movie about the mundanity of living in a police state, shows him talking to his cameraman, trying to act out the movie the authorities won’t let him make, and venturing down his high-rise elevator to watch the fires in the streets. Panahi has been banned from filmmaking for 20 years; thus the title. In effect, he speaks to protest his silence. Nothing much happens, but it’s the most dangerous home movie of the year.