Sideshow and Janus Films announced today that they have acquired all US rights to No Bears, the latest film written and directed by legendary filmmaker Jafar Panahi (Taxi, The Circle, among many others). Films We Like has acquired all Canadian rights.
The film portrays two parallel love stories. In both, the lovers are troubled by hidden, inevitable obstacles, the force of superstition and the mechanics of power. No Bears is written, produced, and directed by Jafar Panahi, and stars the filmmaker alongside Naser Hashemi, Vahid Mobaseri, Bakhtiar Panjei, Mina Kavani, Narjes Dalaram, and Reza Heydari. After its world premiere in Competition at this year’s Venice Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize, the film appeared as a Special Presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival and will next be part of the Main Slate at the New York Film Festival, followed by the BFI London Film Festival.
Jafar Panahi was recently ordered by the Iranian authorities to serve out a sentence that he was issued in 2010, after being arrested again this year while protesting the Iranian government. In December 2010 Panahi was sentenced to a six-year jail sentence and a 20-year ban on directing any movies, writing screenplays, or giving any form of interview with Iranian or foreign media. Since then, his filmmaking drive and creativity have flourished despite government attempts at censorship. His recent feature films include This Is Not a Film, a Special Screening at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival; Closed Curtain, winner of the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival; Taxi, which won the Golden Bear at the 2015 Berlinale; and 3 Faces, winner of the Best Screenplay award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
Sideshow and Janus Films have also announced that they are planning an awards campaign for Panahi for Best Director and that No Bears will receive a theatrical release.
“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," said Hengameh Panahi, president of Celluloid Dreams. Continuing that the filmmaker's "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."
The deal was negotiated by Celluloid Dreams on behalf of the filmmakers with Sideshow and Janus Films. Founded in 1956, Janus Films was the first theatrical distribution company dedicated to bringing international art-house films to U.S. audiences. They handle rights in all media to an extensive library that includes the classics from Michelangelo Antonioni, Věra Chytilová, Sergei Eisenstein, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Abbas Kiarostami, Akira Kurosawa, Ousmane Sembène, Andrei Tarkovsky, François Truffaut, Agnès Varda, and Yasujiro Ozu to major works by contemporary masters, Jim Jarmusch, David Lynch, Joel and Ethan Cohen and John Waters.
In recent years, they have handled Kirsten Johnson’s beloved documentary Cameraperson and Paolo Sorrentino's The Great Beauty which won the 2014 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
In 2021 Janus partnered with Sideshow on the release of Japanese filmmaker Ryusuke Hamaguchi's Drive My Car, which went on to win the Academy Awards® for Best International Feature Film and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Sideshow is a theatrical distribution label founded to release visionary films, and their first release was Drive My Car. Upcoming titles include Shaunak Sen’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner doc All That Breathes, donkey surreal road trip EO by Jerzy Skolimowski, this year's Polish submission to the Oscar race, as well as Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne’s Tori and Lokita, which won the 75th Anniversary Prize at Cannes.