Sideshow and Janus Films are now planning an awards season campaign in the best director category for Panahi and will release the film in time for an Oscar consideration.
US distributors Sideshow and Janus Films have acquired all US rights to Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s No Bears, while Films We Like has acquired all Canadian rights.
The deal was negotiated by Celluloid Dreams on behalf of the filmmakers with Sideshow and Janus Films.
The film is written, produced, and directed by Panahi, and stars 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 the BFI London Film Festival.
Panahi was recently ordered by 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.
He had previously been sentenced to a six-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on directing movies, writing screenplays, or giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media. He has continued making films despite government attempts at censorship.
The drama follows two parallel love stories in which the partners are thwarted by hidden, inevitable obstacles, the force of superstition, and the mechanics of power.
As he has done previously, Panahi plays himself in the film, stationed in a village where he remotely directs a crew shooting a film just miles away, on the other side of the Iranian border in Turkey.
It marks Panahi’s first fiction film since the road movie 3 Faces, which won the best screenplay in the Competition at Cannes in 2018.
Sideshow and Janus Films have also announced that they are planning an awards campaign for Panahi for Best Director and that No Bears will receive a theatrical release.
Speaking about the film, President of Celluloid Dreams Hengameh Panahi said: “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 added: “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.”