Iranian film blogathon last year to which I contributed), compared This Is Not a Film to Oscar Wilde's De Profundis. I honestly can't think of a better summary. Panahi's filmed limbo is wrenching and outrageous, and his sadness comes not from his fear of prison but the idea of not being able to make art anymore. But even as he despairs of this, he makes what may be his greatest artistic statement yet. Along with Film Socialisme, no other film so optimistically looks at the possibilities of the modern era for filmmaking, and for protest. The Iranian government can firewall the Internet to prevent communication on Twitter, but people will find ways around those blocks. They can take away Panahi's camera, but he still has his iPhone. As infuriating as the injustice behind This Is Not a Film is, rarely have I seen a film so inspiring.
My full review is up now at Spectrum Culture.