Sat. Dec 10th, 2022

Behold the flourish of method with which fabled Iranian director Jafar Panahi opens his new movie No Bears. In an unnamed Turkish city, road distributors criss-cross; lastly we decide on a waitress; seamlessly, she turns into our focus. A wrenching drama takes flight in seconds. After which the spell is damaged. An assistant wanders earlier than the actors. He speaks into the digicam: “How was it?”

The query is put to Panahi himself, director too of this film-within-a-film, stationed at a laptop computer in a foreign country. This a lot comes with the tang of actuality. Panahi is banned from film-making by the Iranian state, and No Bears is the fifth function he has illicitly made since that diktat in 2010. Like the remaining, its very existence is an act of defiance, a metafictional portrait of a dissident artist nonetheless at work. It additionally has a flavour all its personal: a posh layer cake of guilt and suspicion, the place even an ideal shot by a grasp director is a suspect machine.

The Panahi of No Bears relies simply minutes from his Turkish location, internally exiled in a village on the Iranian facet of the border. However right here the temper is breezy. A gushing landlord is delighted to host him; a beneficiant neighbour prepares his lunch. As neighbourhood youngsters pose for snapshots, the scene may even go for some sort of idyll.

Put together for the temper to curdle, and the digicam to be implicated. Quickly, rumours begin to unfold that Panahi has additionally photographed a younger couple, whose relationship offends regional customs. The locals are now not pleasant.

With the village a nest of misogynist traditions, No Bears feels prophetic of the ladies’s protests which have just lately swept Iranian cities. An omen too of the worsening of Panahi’s personal state of affairs: simply weeks after wrapping the movie, he was sentenced in July to 6 years in jail. By necessity, the director’s movies since 2010 have usually required he be his personal star, ceaselessly wry and unruffled. Right here although, even Panahi — at the very least as seen within the film — grows frayed, unnerved by his closeness to the border, and the mounting hostility of the villagers.

However the hounded maestro is simply half the story. No Bears additionally returns to the movie Panahi is making by proxy in Turkey, one other story of two lovers with hopes of a border crossing. The world may be inclined to have a look at the director’s enduring profession and easily rejoice the nice god of cinema. Panahi himself presents a far darker sting within the tail — seeming to indict the very act of telling tales within the midst of tyranny. It’s one in every of many troubling concepts in a courageous and good movie, one which reminds us to prize the reality above all.

★★★★★

In UK cinemas from November 11

By Admin

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