From there, Jafar Panahi lays out his plan to describe in detail the movie he would make if he was legally allowed to. He quickly becomes discouraged and, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb captures every moment of it. From frustration, to reflection, to reminiscing, the film gives a portrait of Jafar Panahi under house arrest.
The film takes place in Jafar Panahi home in an upper floor of a apartment building whereTi he reviews some of his old films while giving some commentary and background to certain scenes that were used, and to some that were deleted; at other times, he’s seen candidly playing with his pet iguana, typing something on his laptop and having conversations with the man behind the camera.
It may sound mundane, but somehow the film keeps entertaining – especially in the exchanges between the two directors. Early on, Jafar Panahi says “cut” but Mojtaba Mirtahmasb jokingly refuses to stop filming, saying it would be illegal for Panahi to direct the film. Moments like this underline the absurdity of the situation they’re in and the bits of everyday humor that permeate the film.
And that’s what the film is all about: a man kept from something he loves and having the irrepressible drive to do it, even if that means showing his mundane life, or resorting to shoot on an iPhone.
This film is a great achievement for human rights; it’s existence and preservation is proof that freedom of speech is an unalienable right. The lengths made to get this film into the hands of the festivals were drastic – allegedly having to sneak it out of the country on a USB stick baked into a cake.
The film doesn’t contain much direct political criticism but it’s an important film for just getting made. TIFF has made a bold statement by making all the screenings of the movie free, so that the film is made even more accessible to anyone who wanted to see it. Compelled by the backstory, the audience gave a standing ovation to the special guests: the wife and daughter and wife of Jafar Panahi because the two filmmakers were not allowed to leave the country. For this statement, TIFF deserves praise for being this socially conscious.
The film may sound mundane, but I assure you, any patience is well worth it. There are so many moments of everyday humor, especially when the building’s garbage collector comes. This film captures a time and place to faithfully and true that the audience is left mesmerized by the ending.