German producer Silvana Santamaria has come on board as a lead producer on “The Witness,” the new Tehran-set project reuniting Jafar Panahi and Nader Saeivar that Arthood entertainment is selling in Cannes.

Saeivar will direct “The Witness.” Saeivar wrote “3 Faces,” the Panahi-directed drama that premiered in 2018 in Cannes where it won the award for best screenplay.

Panahi, who is one of Iran’s most prominent auteurs, was recently released from Tehran’s Evin prison after being incarcerated for “propaganda against the system.” He is expected to work very closely with Saeivar on “The Witness” shoot and be on set every day, as he did for Saeivar’s previous films “No End” and “Namo,” according to Santamaria. Panahi will also serve as editor on this previously announced film that is expected to start shooting soon.

In “The Witness,” a widowed retired teacher sees the murder of her adopted daughter. When the police refuse to investigate the murder because of the suspect’s status as an important government figure, she decides to publicize everything she knows.

In his director’s statement, Saeivar called “The Witness” a reflection of the current state of Iranian society. “It depicts the government’s authoritarian rule and the inevitable obedience of society which comes even at the cost of dignity. Ordinary citizens become caught in the gears of the ruling system and become more demoralized each day. This story shows that in the face of a repressive regime, dignity and humanity are inevitably effaced and the truth destroyed,” he said.

“The Witness” is being co-produced by Said Nur Akkus via German-Turkish production company Arthood with Luxembourg’s Wady films and Santamaria’s Soilfilms. The lead producers are Silvana Santamaria and Said Nur Akkus. The film’s German distributor is Missing Films.