Despite Jafar Panahi’s more than decade-long conflict with the Iranian government, his films doggedly persist. The trailer for his newest film, No Bears — his fifth after being formally banned from the art in March 2010 and completed shortly before his most-recent imprisonment in July of this year — emphasizes the director’s gumption. It begins with shots of a digital display with an onscreen timeline reminding us that the dissident filmmaker operates outside the law. “Despite government threats and a suspended sentence, Panahi completes four features over the next decade,” the text reads. “2021 — Panahi begins directing a new film in secret.” A fictionalized version of the director struggles to make a film in a rural town on the Turkey-Iran border while a local scandal begins to envelop him. “Did you take pictures of the village?” townspeople ask Panahi as an ominous piano scores the scene. “This picture has become a big concern. It’s paralyzing all of us.” The mood grows ever more desperate when a woman stops his car on a dark road at dusk. “God knows there will be blood,” she tells him. “For God’s sake, sir, please help us.” Is he safe at the border? And are there really no bears? Find out on December 23, when Venice’s Special Jury Prize–winning film hits cinemas.