Film at Lincoln Center was honored to present the U.S. premiere of Jafar Panahi’s No Bears, a Main Slate selection of the 60th New York Film Festival, this afternoon at Alice Tully Hall. As has been widely documented, the celebrated Iranian filmmaker was unable to join us at the festival as he is currently serving an egregious six-year prison sentence for his vocal, persistent criticisms of the Iranian government. Panahi was arrested last July while inquiring about the arrest of fellow filmmakers, Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad (Panahi would become one of three filmmakers arrested in Tehran in less than a week).

While Panahi, who is making his seventh appearance in the NYFF Main Slate (The White Balloon, 1995, The Circle, 2000, Crimson Gold, 2003, Offside, 2006, This is Not a Film, 2011, 3 Faces, 2018, and No Bears, 2022) could not be in New York to present his feature, lead actor Mina Kavani joined us to provide a personal statement from the filmmaker.

“We are filmmakers. We are part of Iranian cinema. For us, to live is to create. We create works that are not commissioned. Therefore, those in power see us as criminals. Independent cinema reflects its own times. It draws inspiration from society. And cannot be indifferent to it.

The history of Iranian cinema witnesses the constant and active presence of independent directors who have struggled to push back censorship and to ensure the survival of this art. While on this path, some were banned from making films, others were forced into exile or reduced to isolation. And yet, the hope of creating again is a reason for existence. No matter where, when, or under what circumstances, an independent filmmaker is either creating or thinking about creation. We are filmmakers, independent ones.” – Jafar Panahi

Watch her introduction below.