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July 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The conventional wisdom is that censorship is the mortal enemy of artistic creativity. Yet it can be equally argued that often creativity rises to the challenge of censorship and indeed advances under it. That would appear to be the case in the instance of Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who was sentenced to house arrest and banned from making films in his country for 20 years after being convicted of making propaganda against the state. He has made two films since his 2010 conviction. The first, titled This Is Not a Film was reportedly smuggled out of the country on a thumb drive hidden in a cake. The second film, Closed Curtain, much of it shot at Panahi’s home with a smartphone and presumably smuggled out of Iran on the device, is opening in New York tonight (Wednesday), and New York Times critic A.O. Scott bestows much praise on it. The movie, Scott concludes, reveals that Panahi’s "creative intelligence is undimmed and may even be thriving under the constraints of having to work in secret with a tiny crew." But perhaps this, too, is "not a film," Panahi seems to imply, Scott suggests. "He allows Closed Curtain to unfold in an intriguing limbo of deniability, subverting both its own existence and its officially mandated nonexistence."