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No Bears ★★★★★



Director: Jafar Panahi

CastJafar Panahi, Naser Hashemi, Mina Kavani

ReleaseNovember 11th, 2022 (UK)

Being able to express ourselves is a privilege everyone should have the right to have. Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi has been critical of the government of Iran for many years and is now serving a six-year sentence for expressing his opinion. He is a true visionary of modern cinema, and films like This Is Not a Film, Taxi, and The White Ballon demonstrate how vital he is to share stories from Iran that the government should not be burying.

Panahi is a true inspiration for continuing to express himself and sharing stories he wants to make, regardless of any establishment trying to stop him. With all these obstacles, he is presenting his new film No Bears to UK cinemas from November 11th. The film follows two parallel love stories in which the partners are thwarted by hidden, inevitable obstacles, the force of superstition, and the mechanics of power.

No Bears is a fascinating tale that delves deep into why storytelling is essential. It flows naturally but has a deep symbolic purpose coursing through its veins and exploring the concept of physical and non-figurative borders and the risks we must take to find peace. Jafar Panahi continues to inspire and stimulate cinema. Regardless of his circumstances, he continues to be one of the giants of the medium. Panahi introduces us to many characters, all in search of crossing their own borders within this socio-political narrative. The wonder of Panahi is he allows time for you to connect with the emotive feelings of his tale and allows the frame to absorb you into his world. His camera movement is minimal, and being in that moment is always important to understand what he wants to share with his audience.

As Panahi takes you on this journey, he intricately cuts between his two tales and utilises his role as the filmmaker on and off camera, and he wants to show you and the world there is hope for everyone to cross their borders. Their lives may be humbling, but their fears and concerns about the regime are evident but not entirely spelt out on the screen. The storyline in the small village is such an invasive experience where local gossip is thriving, and Panahi is in the middle of it all as he documents it. At the same time, the story in Turkey is highly emotional and profoundly moving, with a stunning performance from Mina Kavani.

Panahi’s frustrations can be felt from film to film, and it feels that in No Bears, he has reached a point where he is still more determined than ever to create and express his opinion. Every frame is filled with anger, frustration, and fear but also hope. Recently many people in Iran have stood against the regime, and for some, it has cost them their freedom and their lives. We can take these liberties for granted, and what so many Iranians have done recently is a push in the direction of being liberated. No Bears is a message to the world to not live in fear and be fearless in concurring within our own personal borders. Like many others, Jafar Panahi remains imprisoned, but his artistry is flying the flag for a better tomorrow for his people.

Lover of all things indie and foreign language. Can be found rambling on YouTube at times!

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