"Panahi introduces two stories that extend in parallel throughout 'No Bears'. One follows the production of a film-within-the-film, that Panahi is attempting to direct via Zoom while stationed in the small village of Jaban on the Iranian side of the border. This tracks the attempts of a refugee couple stuck in the Turkish town for the last 10 years to escape to France. The other is a docufiction about Panahi's stay in Jaban and the suspicions and dramas his covert filmmaking rustles up" – based on a review by Jamsheed Akrami in Film Comment.
"No Bears starts in a gently comic tone, and we are fooled into expecting a gentle observation of rural Iran. But as he weaves his two stories together, the tone shifts at a nail-biting trot towards something more sinister. We're left not only fearing for Panahi's lovers, but for our director too. As he walks through the darkness to meet a group of angry men, a stranger gives him a piece of advice. Lie to them. They mostly do not care about the truth, only the appearance of the truth" – Greer McNally, Time Out.
“Moving, satirical, and frightening in equal measure”
“A complex layer cake of guilt and suspicion, where even a great shot by a master director is a suspect device.”
“Like Panahi’s recent films This Is Not a Film and Taxi Tehran, this is powerful because of its control, subtlety and diplomatic finesse.”