TIFF 2022: Our Review of ‘No Bears’

Posted in TIFF 2022 by - September 17, 2022
TIFF 2022: Our Review of ‘No Bears’

Iranian director Jafar Panahi is someone who lives under constant threat. Living such a life requires the constant battle between leaving or staying within danger, a concept he examines in his latest film No Bears. Here, he rents a room in a triple border town, one near both Azerbaijan and Turkey, doing so to make a film about a couple (Bakhtiar Panjei, Mina Kavani) trying to get further away from Iran. While driving to the border, a woman stops him and accuses him of taking a picture of her and her boyfriend, which is taboo since since Azerbaijani Iranians, or the Azari, have a tradition of betrothing girls from birth. The men of the village insist that he deliver a photo he may not have.

No Bears lets its tensions unfold in ways that make those confrontations risky. The story unfolding on the Iranian side of the border shows the Azari tradition. As Jafar plays himself, he shows a community piling one tradition on top of another, an obvious critique of Iranian culture at large. The Turkish storyline is equally shocking, expertly setting up one revelation after another. The latter storyline is Panahi revisiting and improving upon his classic themes. He always uses first time actors and those actors break the fourth wall in many fo his films but there’s something riskier this time around for reasons I can’t divulge. Most people can’t get what they want, but Panahi makes his viewers feel an angst that his country feels.

  • Release Date: 9/17/2022
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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