A film, or maybe not a film, is coming to The Cleveland Cinematheque next month, and, like many of the films shown at the Cinematheque, it sounds interesting. However, this one sounds even more interesting than the others. Making any work of art is a struggle, even if it's kind of fun at the same time, but making a movie has to be a particular pain in the wazoo. There is sound, there is lighting, there is equipment, there are actors, there is the weather, blah, blah, blah. Now imagine how much harder it gets when your government bans you from making your art. That's what happened to filmmaker Jafar Panahi from Iran. Thankfully, he didn't let them stop him from using his freedom of expression (it's a natural right--it doesn't not exist just because some creepy government officials deny it exists). Panahi, with a lot of help, even got his film shown at the big deal Cannes International Film Festival, though he had to smuggle it out of Iran in a cake.
That's right. A cake.
His film is called This Is Not A Film.
It's sad that artists around the world still have to fight for things that the Enlightenment should have settled a few centuries ago, but they do. It's not just religious nutjobs such as the rulers in Iran either. One can find similar cases in the good old USA. I'm most familiar with the case of zinester/comics artist Mike Diana, whom the state of Florida forbid to draw or write anything they didn't approve of (he was subject to unannounced searches in his home). Diana's art is fairly extreme and disturbing, but it's always the extremes where ideas such as freedom of expression get tested. Nobody ever has a problem with art they like. It's only with art that is despised.
I'm very happy that I can write and create what I want. I hope someday that the same can be true for everyone.
Here's the trailer for Panahi's film, er, not a film.
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