Kino Lorber has snatched up U.S. rights to 3 Faces, the Iranian drama from director Jafar Panahi, which won the best screenplay prize this year at the Cannes Film Festival.

Like his previous three features, Panahi made 3 Faces in secret while under an official 20-year ban from filmmaking imposed by the Iranian government in 2010.

Kino Lorber has released some of Panahi's previous works, including Taxi, which won the Berlin Festival's Golden Bear for best film in 2015. Kino Lorber also did an ancillary market release for Panahi's 2012 feature This Is Not a Film, which the director partially shot on an iPhone in his home while under house arrest.

As with Taxi, Panahi also stars in 3 Faces, alongside well-known Iranian actress Behnaz Jafari. Both play versions of themselves in the film, which takes the form of a road movie as they travel to rural Iran to answer a plea for help for a girl whose family has forbidden her from attending a drama conservatory in Tehran. Panahi and Nader Saeivar co-wrote the film's award-winning screenplay.

Critics have embraced 3 Faces, with The Hollywood Reporter's review calling it “charming Iranian cinema at its purest.”

The feature has been a strong title for Celluloid Dreams, which is handling worldwide sales of the film and has closed deals across most of Europe and parts of Asia and South America, including with such veteran distributors as Memento Films in France, Golem Distribution in Spain and Imovision in Brazil. 

The Kino Lorber deal was negotiated by Lorber senior vp Wendy Lidell and Celluloid's vp Charlotte Mickie.

“This deceptively simple but subtly complex film sneaks up on you with its profound humanism,” said Lidell. “Jafar Panahi is arguably the most important Iranian filmmaker at work today and in the pantheon of greatest filmmakers worldwide. We’re confident American audiences will savor 3 Faces as his best film in years.”

Kino Lorber is planning a U.S. theatrical release for 3 Faces in March 2019, followed by a VOD and home video bow.