No Bears: Iranian Jafar Panahi

No Bears

Jafar Panahi, 2022, Iran, 107m

One of the world’s great cinematic artists, Jafar Panahi has been carefully crafting self-reflexive works about artistic, personal, and political freedom for the past three decades, and his risk-taking output has never slowed down even amidst his globally condemned treatment by the Iranian government. Now, as the international film community vehemently denounces Panahi’s summer 2022 arrest, this time for his vocal support of a fellow artist’s independence, he has gifted us all with a new film, and it’s another virtuosic sleight of hand. In No Bears, as in many of his recent titles, he centers himself, having relocated temporarily to a rural border town to remotely oversee the making of a new film in Tehran, the story of which comes to sharply mirror disturbing events that begin to occur around him. In these parallel yet cross-hatching narratives, Panahi keeps pulling the narrative rug out from under the viewer as he confronts tradition and progress, city and country, spiritual belief and photographic evidence, and the human desire to escape from oppression.

Farsi, Azerbaijani, Turkish with English subtitles

U.S. Premiere