Foreign Film Series: No Bears

No Bears
March 14, 2024 - March 17, 2024
All Day
Student Center Cinema

The rigidity of borders—literal and figurative—is the primary interest of No Bears Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s latest film. Completed two months before the director’s most recent arrest—culminating in a six-year prison sentence for “propaganda against the regime” in his native Iran—the film is a meta-commentary on the artistic suppression that Panahi has been increasingly subjected to throughout his career, also currently affecting a large swath of Iranian filmmakers, artists, and activists. No Bears incorporates two parallel plot lines. The first involves Panahi (who plays himself) covertly renting a room near the Iranian border and secretly overseeing the shoot for his next film, which is happening in a nearby Turkish city. Restricted from leaving Iran (much like the real-life Panahi), he monitors the production’s progress via Zoom and cell phone calls—that is, when the frequently-spotty reception allows for it. In his free time, he takes photographs of the small town he’s lodging in, with special emphasis on its provincial residents. However, he quickly becomes embroiled in a local scandal involving a photo he allegedly took of a young couple whose union is strictly forbidden by the town’s traditional customs, though he vehemently swears that no such photograph exists. The second storyline occurs within Panahi’s intra-film narrative, which similarly concerns a star-crossed couple.

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Betty Petersen
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