No Bears (Jafar Panahi, 2022, 107 min, Iran, Farsi with English subtitles, DCP)
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, despite his oppression at the hands of the Iranian government. In No Bears, as in many of his recent titles, Panahi plays a fictionalized version of himself, in this case relocated to a rural border town to remotely direct a new film in nearby Turkey – the story of which comes to sharply mirror disturbing events that begin to occur around him.
“A testament to the power of film to challenge a culture of blind obedience, and also to Panahi’s efforts, as a dissident filmmaker, to build a cinema of defiance against the propagandist film apparatus of the state.” – Jamsheed Akrami, Film Comment
“Panahi, whose courage and honesty are beyond doubt, has made a movie that calls those very qualities into question, a movie about its own ethical limits and aesthetic contradictions.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times