American Bear: An Adventure in the Kindness of Strangers
Our movie has taken on a life of its own. Or maybe in some way its sort of taken over my life, but I think I am comfortable with that. It started as our adventure – as way to explore the country, its people and the dynamics of kindness.
In the summer of 2010, my boyfriend Greg and I (Sarah) traveled the country relying on the kindness of strangers for a home each night. Every day we were in a new town, meeting new people, and hoping that someone would be generous enough to open their home to us. We were curious, 21 and aching for an adventure.
An adventure is absolutely what we got – but for me, now, it is about so much more than this movie. It’ s about kindness, creativity, connection. I want people to talk to strangers – the bagger at the grocery store deserves your best smile and they deserve to be asked how their day was. The person next to you on the subway will totally talk to you if you. Bathroom lines, buses, busy hallways at schools, sidewalks, book stores, coffee shops, restaurants – all of these places are great places to meet people! And when we are feeling romantic or lonely we think about that, but how often do we try it?
So now this movie is about that, its about shifting the dynamic between everyone around us – so eventually, if you are having a not-so-good day, the idea of going outside sounds wonderful, because you never know who you might meet for the first time!
It all began a year earlier, during another road trip, when Greg spoke out in his sleep, saying “We have to go to Bear, Colorado!” We were thrilled by the idea of a dream-destiny –- and disappointed when we found out that actually, Bear, CO doesn’t exist. But can you imagine when we found out that there were 5 other Bears making a perfect horseshoe between Washington, Idaho, Arizona, Arkansas, and Delaware? It had to happen!
And so American Bear: An Adventure in the Kindess of Strangers began.
The film centers on their struggle to find a home each night through the kindness of the individual. But the film expands to paint a portrait of Americans as a community and the questions we all have about the people who aren’t us and the places that aren’t our homes. It tells the stories of a few of the most irregular, profound and affected individuals they encounter. From the daughter of the last warrior woman of the Cheyenne mountain tribe whose grandson is still facing bigotry in South Dakota; to the twice married ghost hunters trying to synthesize their experiences in small-town New York; to young friends in Mississippi trying to understand the “country” stereotype, maybe even reclaim it – each character is facing some obstacle that allows us to see a unique side of the multifaceted American lifestyle. It is through these individuals that we are able to see the fabric of the American mentality and the daily choices we make.
In a time when violence is ever present and apathy seems to override even the bloodiest of headlines, maybe we need to try a different tactic: openness and vulnerability as a means to hope. Our goal is to leave the audience feeling optimistic; feeling that there are small things you can do to fight against injustice, to support our human community. We strive to make a documentary that will create a very specific kind of hope. A hope that doesn’t have to work against the odds, but rather one that suggests that in the end the odds are in our favor. A hope that people all around the world can be good and kind, and generous.
What does it take to lend a hand? What obstacles stand in our way? Can we be good people? What can we do to help each other flourish?
We wish to foster the power of the individual as the greatest resource for generating change in the world, starting with a simple act of kindness.
To learn more about American Bear visit www.americanbearfilm.com
We have also started a YouTube Webseries, called Bear Bones. BEAR Bones is a series of mini documentary shorts exploring the science and sociology behind kindness, fear, trust and all things American Bear. Watch Episode 1 and Episode 2 now!
After watching this trailer it leaves me wanting more. The amazing courage of these two to rely on stranges in weird and violent times is truly a leap of faith. I can not wait to see this entire movie.-Karla Bond, Bond With Karla Publisher
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