Though banned from making films in Iran, Jafar Panahi won the Venice Special Jury Prize for his bold take on two parallel love stories thwarted by superstition and power.
Panahi (Tehran Taxi
, SFF 2015; Three Faces
, SFF 2018), only recently released from an Iranian prison on bail, both directs and stars in No Bears
. What results are two powerful sagas unfolding onscreen. Panahi plays a fictionalised version of himself directing a film remotely from a small border village in Iran. Banned from leaving the country, his assistant director instead oversees the shoot in nearby Türkiye. In the film he’s making, a couple desperately tries to secure fake passports to escape to France. Whilst filming Panahi is swept up in a scandal surrounding another young couple’s forbidden romance. In this searing blend of truth and fiction, Panahi questions the role of an artist in societies only too willing to scapegoat them.