Sideshow and Janus Films announced today that they have acquired all US rights to No Bears, the latest film written and directed by legendary filmmaker Jafar Panahi (Taxi, The Circle). Films We Like has acquired all Canadian rights.
No Bears portrays two parallel love stories. In both, the lovers are troubled by hidden, inevitable obstacles, the force of superstition and the mechanics of power. The film is written, produced, and directed by Jafar Panahi, and stars Jafar Panahi, Naser Hashemi, Vahid Mobaseri, Bakhtiar Panjei, Mina Kavani, Narjes Dalaram, and Reza Heydari. The film had its world premiere in Competition at this year’s Venice Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize, before appearing as a Special Presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival. It will next appear in the Main Slate at the New York Film Festival and at the BFI London Film Festival.
Jafar Panahi was recently ordered by the Iranian authorities to serve out a six-year sentence that he was issued in 2010, after being arrested this year while protesting the Iranian government. In December 2010 Panahi was sentenced to a six-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on directing any movies, writing screenplays, or giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media. Since then, his filmmaking drive and creativity have flourished despite government attempts at censorship. His recent feature films include This Is No a Film, a Special Screening at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival; Closed Curtain, winner of the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival; Taxi, winner of the Golden Bear at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival; and 3 Faces, winner of Best Screenplay at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
No Bears will receive a theatrical release and Sideshow and Janus Films are planning an awards campaign for Panahi for Best Director this season.
President of Celluloid Dreams, Hengameh Panahi, commented: “I’ve been working with Jafar since his debut, The White Balloon, which was the first significant North American release of an Iranian movie and the only film by Jafar to be released in his own country because of his subsequent refusal to comply with censorship requests. His life is entirely focused on filmmaking and he persists despite all obstacles and limitations. Cinema is his inspiration and filmmaking his life. I am extremely happy to have found such a good home for No Bears, with distributors who care deeply and do such extraordinary work. The movie is a resoundingly humanist response to an inhumane situation.”
Sideshow’s Jonathan Sehring said: “Jafar Panahi is one of the world’s greatest filmmakers. He has made a series of astonishing narratives with extremely limited means and under great restrictions. His films are deeply entertaining political acts of resistance and No Bears is his crowning masterpiece. We are incredibly excited to bring this film into the world and also make sure that it gets serious consideration from the Directors Branch of the Academy.”
The deal was negotiated by Celluloid Dreams on behalf of the filmmakers with Sideshow and Janus Films.