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Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi (TAXI, THIS IS NOT A FILM), currently serving a 6 year prison sentence in Tehran (for “collusion against the regime”), won the 2022 Venice Film Festival Jury Prize for this new, clandestinely-shot meta-drama. The film playfully opens as a fiction feature, shot in a Turkish border town; then pulls back to show Panahi directing remotely from Iran. Here villagers spar with him over a photograph of an unmarried couple he is accused of taking. Fiction vs. reality, city progress vs. village traditions, freedom vs. conformity – all themes that make up “a complex work of novelistic density. Among the boldest and most accomplished statements from one of the world’s exemplary filmmakers.” – Jonathan Romney, Screen


Read more about Panahi’s arrest, and an interview with NO BEARS actress, Mina Kavani, on Iranian Cinema.


#4 Film of the Year – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
#5 Film of the Year – A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“... don’t miss NO BEARS, a haunting, sorrowful story about being and belonging, place and displacement from the Iranian director Jafar Panahi… In NO BEARS he plays himself (or a version thereof), a director who is struggling to make a movie in Turkey, while temporarily camped out nearby in a small Iranian village that’s soon engulfed in turmoil. Here, borders are at once imagined and terrifyingly real.”
– Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“A Masterwork. Panahi once again uses his situation to produce something that’s somehow life-affirming and deeply devastating.” 
– David Fear, Rolling Stone

“Panahi is one of Iran’s most controversial filmmakers, known for the depth and warmth of his characterization and his fearless critique of his country’s regime… NO BEARS is sadder and tougher than TAXI. It is also more ambitious, daring, and formally inventive… Panahi is able to multiply and complicate the ways in which reality and fiction can run parallel, be scrambled, and overlap… The film is so intricately structured, so filled with persuasive and artful parallels and dramatic plot twists... Humans are worse than bears when it comes to finding ingenious ways to torment our own species. Panahi’s brilliant films are a testament to the determination, perseverance, and courage required to keep making art, no matter what.”
– Francine Prose, New York Review of Books

The films that the Iranian director Jafar Panahi has made since 2011 are exemplary works of personal cinema. They’re also major works of political cinema… among the best movies of the past decade. NO BEARS is fully their equal – it even exceeds them in important ways. A film of rage calmly expressed, and the target of that rage is religious dogma - in particular, the part of it that subordinates women to the will of men. NO BEARS spotlights the power and danger of images, which match the power and the danger posed by the authorities; it’s among Panahi’s fiercest inspirations to lay bare the assumptions and superstitions of sexual control and male supremacy as the fundamental pillar of political repression. With his wry, tender, and nuanced view of village life, Panahi focuses on the confluence of tradition and authority to blur the line between oppressed and oppressors… An overarching, philosophical vision of tyrannical misrule.” 
– Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“Brilliant Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi is now serving a six-year prison sentence… It’s something you won’t stop thinking about — along with the astonishing antigovernment protests sweeping across Iran and beyond — as you watch Panahi’s latest, an instantly gripping, formally ingenious drama about religious fundamentalism, small-town myopia and the ways people weaponize fear in order to hide their own.”
– Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

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