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THIS IS NOT A FILM

Friday, December 28, 2012 at 7:00 PM

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TONY PICKS: Time Out New York's own Keith Uhlich will host two nights of screenings from his Best Movies of 2012 list.

Friday, December 28th @ 7pm

2012 – directed by Jafar Panahi & Mojtaba Mirtahmasb – with Jafar Panahi

Sure it is---and a great one at that. If you follow world cinema news, then you know that in December 2010, Iranian writer-director Jafar Panahi (OFFSIDE) was issued a six-year prison term and banned from making movies for two decades by the Ahmadinejad regime. With help from documentarian Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Panahi shot this profoundly introspective feature clandestinely in his own apartment while he waited for his sentence to be handed down. (It was eventually smuggled out of Iran on a flash drive hidden in a birthday cake for a debut screening at Cannes.)

At first, it seems as if we're watching a day-in-the-life documentary: Panahi talks with his lawyer, feeds his family's scene-stealing pet iguana and acts out sequences from a never-realized script. But there are clues throughout---a humorous interlude with a neighbor's dog, a brilliantly extended set piece focused on the building's garbage collector---that we're viewing a much more canny blend of fiction and fact, in line with the director's 1997 meta masterpiece, THE MIRROR. In that film, an actor breaks character as if tossing away shackles; there's no such hope for escape here, as the threat to Panahi's life and livelihood is ominously, omnipresently real. That he nonetheless meets this terrible situation with dignity and effusiveness is as inspiring as it is heartbreaking.

74 minutes – presented on Blu Ray

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