Kino Lorber has acquired U.S. rights to Jafar Panahi’s critically lauded drama “3 Faces,” which won the best screenplay prize at the Cannes Film Festival and will have its North American premiere at Toronto.

“3 Faces” marks the fourth feature from Panahi, who since 2010 has been under a 20-year ban imposed by the Iranian government. The film stars Panahi and well-known Iranian actress Behnaz Jafari (both playing themselves) as they embark on an eventful road trip to the rural northwest of Iran to help a girl whose family has forbidden her from attending a drama conservatory in Tehran. They soon discover that the local hospitality is challenged by a desire to protect age-old traditions.

Delivering a realistic portrayal of contemporary Iranian society, “3 Faces” was described by Variety’s Jessica Kiang as a “heartfelt statement of solidarity” and a “quietly fierce act of cinematic defiance.”

The acquisition reteams Panahi with Kino Lorber, which previously released his Berlinale Golden Bear winner “Taxi,” as well as “This Is Not a Film” (in ancillary markets), a film partially shot with an iPhone while he was under house arrest.

“This deceptively simple but subtly complex film sneaks up on you with its profound humanism. Jafar Panahi is arguably the most important Iranian filmmaker at work today and in the pantheon of greatest filmmakers worldwide,” said Kino Lorber SVP Wendy Lidell, who negotiated the deal with Celluloid Dreams VP Charlotte Mickie.

The film will play at New York Film Festival after Toronto and will roll out in theaters in March 2019, followed by VOD and home video release.

Panahi, who won Iran’s first major festival award with his debut feature, “The White Balloon,” in 1995, has been sentenced by Iranian authorities to a 20-year ban on filmmaking, screenwriting, traveling outside of the country and giving interviews; he could be condemned to six years in prison for breaking these restrictions. The director has won several human rights prizes, notably the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and The Medal of Art for Freedom.

Kino Lorber’s slate of recent acquisitions includes Bi Gan’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” which also world premiered at Cannes.