Sideshow and Janus Films have acquired all US rights from Celluloid Dreams to Jafar Panahi’s Venice special jury prize winner No Bears and will mount an awards push for the imprisoned Iranian director.
Films We Like has picked up all Canadian rights to the tale of two parallel love stories which explores superstition and the mechanics of power.
Panahi (Taxi, 3 Faces, This Is Not A Film) wrote, directed, produced and stars in No Bears alongside Naser Hashemi, Vahid Mobaseri, Bakhtiar Panjei, Mina Kavani, Narjes Dalaram, and Reza Heydari.
The film screened in Toronto following its world premiere on the Lido and the next stop is New York Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival.
Panahi was recently ordered by the Iranian authorities to serve out a six-year sentence issued in 2010 after being arrested this year for protesting against the Iranian government. He is technically under a 20-year ban on directing and writing films and granting interviews to Iranian or foreign media.
Sideshow and Janus Films are planning a best director awards campaign for Panahi and will release No Bears theatrically.
Celluloid Dreams president 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.”