Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, whose making was kept secret from the Iranian authorities. The filmmaker Jafar Panahi brazenly navigates the familiar area between fiction and documentary, telling the story of a director (played by Panahi himself) who retreats to the countryside to supervise a project being shot in nearby Turkey. He’s convinced that far from Teheran he can hide from the watchful eye of the authorities, but his wishful thinking fails against a reality check. The atmosphere around his politically engaged melodrama becomes tense, and to make matters worse, the anxiety spreads across the villagers hosting the director. In the dusty streets, horror meets absurdity, and the best weapon against the eponymous bears – which no one has seen, but everyone fears – turns out to be black humour.
Jafar Panahi, until recently incarcerated by the regime, tackles difficult topics with the lightness and zest of an artist who, while experiencing oppression, remains free on the inside.