Panahi’s ‘Not a Film’ sells

Deal comes after Iran bans co-director from traveling

Palisades Tartan has snapped up U.S. and U.K. rights to “This Is Not a Film,” the clandestine picture about Iranian director Jafar Panahi, from Wide Management.

Deal was announced Wednesday, a week after Iranian authorities banned documentary filmmaker Mojtaba Mirtahmasb — who co-helmed “This Is Not a Film” with Jafar Panahi — from traveling outside the country. The purpose of the trip was to promote the French theatrical release of “This Is Not a Film” before flying on to the Toronto Film Festival to attend the Canadian premiere.

“This film is of undeniable importance today, especially amid the current Middle Eastern unrest,” said Palisades president-CEO Soumya Sriraman on Wednesday.

Mirtahmasb was allowed to attend the Cannes Film Festival in May for the world preem of “Not a Film,” which was shot almost entirely in Panahi’s apartment on digital video and an iPhone for just $4,500. Dedicated to all Iranian filmmakers, it was smuggled to France on a USB thumb drive hidden inside a cake.

Panahi openly supported the opposition party in Iran’s 2009 election, resulting in a six-year prison sentence and a 20-year ban from filmmaking and conducting interviews with foreign press. Panahi, whose work includes “Offside” and “The Circle,” is currently under house arrest.

“This Is Not a Film” is written by and stars Panahi. It screened in Toronto on Thursday and Friday, the first two days of the fest.

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