What would you do if your obsession in life was suddenly ripped away from you and you were forced to stay in your house awaiting punishment for something you thought was right? Panahi chose to keeping telling stories. If you have been plugged into the international film scene for the last couple of years, you know that filmmaker Jafar Panahi has been forced into this exact thing by the Iranian government. He has been accused of making films that commented on the restrictive nature of Iran. He was sentenced to six years in prison and a twenty year ban from filmmaking. But these events were still in the future when one day he got the idea to invite a documentarian friend over and tell him the story that he was planning on filming against the government’s wishes.
This film is much more than an older man acting out a story he put down on paper. You see him sitting at home eating breakfast, watching his old films, feeding his huge iguana, and generally venting his frustration at such a horrible situation.
Ideologically, I am very much in favor of this film. But practically, I was little underwhelmed. I know that the documentarian was trying to capture the government imposed ennui on Panahi but this resulted in me being bored just like he was. Scenes of the camera following the iguana around the apartment and watching Panahi on his computer made me sleepy. I would have liked to see more excerpts from his films or more facts about his case explained to me. The film seemed to have deflated about halfway through. It didn’t get any energy injected into it until Panahi stepped into the elevator and began interviewing the man who was taking out the trash. Panahi was able gain control and forget about his problems the moment he picked up that camera. The camera felt like a natural extension of himself. It is also hopeful that no matter what happens to him, he will continue to make films.