Sideshow, Janus Films Take U.S. Rights For Jafar Panahi’s Venice Winner ‘No Bears’ & Announce Best Director Oscar Push

Iranian director Jafar Panahi remains behind bars in Tehran but his cinema continues to travel.

In a fresh sales announcement, Sideshow and Janus Films have acquired all U.S rights and Films We Like has taken all Canadian rights to Panahi’s Venice Special Jury Prize winner ‘No Bears’.

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Celluloid Dreams handles international sales.

U.S. distributors Sideshow and Janus Films are now planning an awards season campaign in the best director category for Panahi and will release the film in time for an Oscar push.

The director is currently serving a reactivated, six-year suspended prison sentence, originally handed out in 2010, after he was detained in July by Iranian authorities as part of a crackdown on freedom of expression and dissent.

Since then, tensions over the Iranian government’s authoritarian rule have ratcheted up in recent days amid protests over the killing of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, while in custody for not wearing her burqa properly.

Tapping into the current mood in Iran, No Bears follows two parallel love stories thwarted by hidden, inevitable obstacles, the force of superstition and the mechanics of power.

The film world premiered in Venice and then travelled to TIFF as a special presentation and soon screens in New York and at the BFI London Film Festival.

Panahi wrote, produced, directed and stars in the film with Naser Hashemi, Vahid Mobaseri, Bakhtiar Panjei, Mina Kavani, Narjes Dalaram, and Reza Heydari.

“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,” commented Celluloid Dreams president Panahi.

“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.”

Describing No Bears as Panahi’s “crowning masterpiece” Sideshow’s Jonathan Sehring pledged to get behind an Oscar campaign for the director.

“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,” he said.

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