No Bears – Film Review
Director- Jafar Panahi
Writer – Jafar Panahi
Stars – Jafar Panahi, Naser Hashemi, Reza Heydari, Mina Kavani
It is impossible to talk about this film without giving the context in which it was made. The director of the film, Jafar Panahi, won the Caméra d’Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, for his film The White Balloon (1995), along with many other accolades in his career. Panahi has long been a prominent figure in the fight against the authorities in his home country of Iran. In December 2010, Panahi was sentenced to six years in prison. He served two months before being released on a number of conditions. He was given a 20-year ban from directing any movies, a ban he largely ignored. In recent years, he has made films such as This Is Not a Film and Taxi Tehran. He was recently arrested and the authorities say he will serve his previous sentence. This is the last film he made before his imprisonment.
The film focuses on the making of another film. The character Jafar Panahi has travelled to a town near the border with Turkey. His latest feature is being made just over the border, and he wanted to be as near as possible to the set. He is living in a rented room and spends his days battling to get wifi so he can talk to those working on his film. There are two main strands to the film, with the authorities taking an interest in his presence so close to the border. The other element is a photograph he may or may not have taken, which is causing much strife within the small town.
This is a complex meta-drama, with many elements of the script reflecting what is happening in real life. It is impossible to know which elements are real and which are not. It is an interesting story and well told by this expert filmmaker, in what must be very difficult circumstances. I’m sure you could make a documentary on the making of the film which would be just as interesting. What makes the work all the more poignant is the imprisonment of Panahi for nothing more than a contrived crime. This work will highlight the situation in Iran, with many thousands of reviews in papers around the world. It is another protest film made by a man unjustly incarcerated.