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No Bears film image

The esteemed dissident Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi plays himself (again), a prisoner in his own country, banned from making films but nevertheless doing exactly that, remotely, directing via laptop as long as his wifi connection holds up. The film he’s overseeing concerns a couple trying to get hold of passports on the black market to flee to Europe, and is being shot in a town just over the border in Turkey. Meanwhile Panahi is renting a room in a village on the other side of the border and trying to keep a low profile, though with limited success. Indeed, he becomes embroiled in a local scandal when an angry husband-to-be claims Panahi has photographic evidence of his betrothed embracing another man…

As you would expect from Panahi – whose recent work includes This Is Not a Film and Three FacesNo Bears is bare bones simplicity on the surface, but ingeniously conceived so that it reveals multiple layers of meaning and depths of emotion as it develops. The chasm between the assumptions and understandings of the superstitious and tradition-bound villagers and the urban artist proves an especially resonant seam; another is the surreal transparency of borders; and yet another, the collateral damage that can be incurred through art, storytelling, or simply photography. These themes coalesce in a last act that delivers a weighty punch.

Note, subsequent to the completion of No Bears, Jafar Panahi was arrested once again and in July he sentenced to six years’ imprisonment.

His son’s debut feature, Hit the Road, is screening in our Best of 2022 Film Series.

“Despite all that he has faced, Panahi retains the wit and humility to hold himself accountable – to question his art with remarkable candour and self-deprecation. Filtering his immense contribution to cinema through a deceptively incidental lens, he once again reminds us that movie-making can be a profoundly humane endeavour; at once comedic, tragic and truthful.” Mark Kermode, The Observer

Despite all that he has faced, Panahi retains the wit and humility to hold himself accountable – to question his art with remarkable candour and self-deprecation. Filtering his immense contribution to cinema through a deceptively incidental lens, he once again reminds us that movie-making can be a profoundly humane endeavour; at once comedic, tragic and truthful.

Mark Kermode, The Observer

Its very existence is an act of defiance, a metafictional portrait of a dissident artist still at work. It also has a flavour all its own: a complex layer cake of guilt and suspicion, where even a great shot by a master director is a suspect device.

Danny Leigh, Financial Times

No Bears is a complex, mysterious metafiction about the anguish of Iran and the artist working within Iran. Its creator, film-maker and democracy campaigner Panahi, has recently been sentenced to six years in jail after long periods of house arrest since a bogus propaganda charge in 2011… There is a bracing severity and intelligence and moral seriousness to No Bears… this is powerful because of its control, subtlety and diplomatic finesse.

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Director

Jafar Panahi

Credits
Country of Origin

Iran

Year

2022

Language

In Farsi with English subtitles

Awards

Special Jury Prize, Venice 2022

19+
106 min

Book Tickets

Friday December 23

2:00 pm
First Look Fridays Subtitles
VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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6:10 pm
Subtitles
VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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Saturday December 24

2:30 pm
Subtitles
VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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Monday December 26

5:10 pm
Subtitles
VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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Tuesday December 27

4:00 pm
Subtitles
VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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Wednesday December 28

3:00 pm
Subtitles
VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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Thursday December 29

3:00 pm
Subtitles
VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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Thursday January 05

3:30 pm
Subtitles
VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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First Look Fridays: $10 Tickets

Seniors and friends enjoy $10 tickets + complimentary tea & coffee at this film’s first Friday matinee screening.

Credits

Producer

Jafar Panahi

Screenwriter

Jafar Panahi

Cinematography

Amin Jafari

Editor

Amir Etminan