Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, the co-director with Jafar Panahi of This Is Not a Film, had his passport forfeited at Tehran airport on 5 September 2011, along with having his laptop and notebooks confiscated. Only his wife and son, who he had planned to travel to Paris with, are allowed to leave Iran. He will not be able to attend the screening of the film at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) where it screens this week.
In December 2010, Panahi was handed a six-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on making or directing movies, writing screenplays, giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media. He was also banned from leaving the country.
This Is Not A Film was awarded the Carrosse d’Or (The Golden Coach) at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, rewarding filmmakers with independent vision and thought, and while Panahi was unable to attend, the film was smuggled from Iran to France on a USB stick inside a cake. This incredible story is the stuff that thrillers are made of, but the tragedy is its reality.
Protested around the world, by filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola and Juliette Binoche have publicly spoken out about his incarceration.
The 2011 Sydney Film Festival staged a series of screenings as part of their campaign to help free Jafar Panahi and his younger filmmaking colleague, Mohammad Rasoulof.
This Is Not A Film is released in Australia on 10 November 2011 from Sharmill Films.