The ‘Bear 71’ Social Narrative: Meet the Interactive Storytelling Grizzly

An interactive social film and techno-jigsaw that tracks a talking bear through the wilderness to demonstrate the criss-crossed connectivity of two distinct worlds (nature and man), presented as a participatory experience via the digital jungle?  Yes, please.

I first read about Bear 71 last week on The Creator’s Project, described as:

Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison‘s … interactive web-based documentary Bear 71, from the innovative National Film Board of Canada (NFB), that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this week.

The [Bear 71] 20-minute documentary chronicles the life of a female bear in the Canadian Rockies who was tagged and tracked by Banff National Park rangers from 2001-2009. Told from the first-person perspective of the female grizzly, named Bear 71, the film is split between live footage of the bear’s key experiences and a virtual map that the user can navigate freely—supplemented with over one million photos captured by Allison with motion-triggered cameras, as well as several videos, all set to a soundtrack of Radiohead, Atlas Sound, Tim Hecker and Caspian.

(Click here for the entire post on The Creators Project site.)

Watch the Bear 71 trailer here:

Bear 71 from National Film Board of Canada on Vimeo.

Bear 71 was featured again yesterday on Mashable’s great post, “4 Inspiring Examples of Digital Storytelling.”  Click here to see the entire list.

From the article:

Blurring the line between the wired world and the wild world, the National Film Board of Canada’s Bear 71 is a multi-user interactive social narrative that observes and records the intersection of humans, nature and technology.


Launched with a live, interactive art installation at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival New Frontier Program, the storyworld of Bear 71 is a fully immersive, multi-platform experience. Participants explore and engage with the world of a female grizzly bear via animal role play, augmented reality, webcams, geolocation tracking, motion sensors, a microsite, social media channels and a real bear trap in Park City. This project is the most recent example of how the NFB is changing the face of cinema.

And today, FastCo.Create tackled Bear 71 in an article called “If A Bear Falls In the Forest, Will We See It On Google Maps?  Behind Bear 71”:

Bear 71 is tough to explain in one breath. It helps to just dive into the 20-minute interactive film online and be enveloped by the moving pieces. There’s a navigable grid; video clips intermittently take over the full screen; your webcam monitors you. And there’s a narrator, the eponymous bear given a somber human voice, that holds it all together. Click here to read more.

Click here to visit the Bear 71 Sundance homepage.  And click here for more information about New Frontier at Sundance, a program that focuses on “the integration of humanity and media technology.”

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