Bear 71

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Bear 71 is a 2012 interactive National Film Board of Canada (NFB) web documentary by Leanne Allison and Jeremy Mendes about a grizzly bear in Banff National Park, who was collared at the age of three and was watched her whole life via trail cameras in the park.[1][2] In March 2017, Bear 71 was re-released as a virtual reality work, viewable on Google Daydream and Google Cardboard.[3]


Following Bear 71, the web documentary explores the connections between the human and animal world, and the far-ranging effects that human settlements, roads and railways have on wildlife.[1][2] The webdoc features a map of Banff National Park that allows users to follow Bear 71's movements by scrolling over the cameras, and look at other users by activating the computer's webcam.[4]


Through the work of Leanne Allison's husband and film collaborator Karston Heuer (Being Caribou, Finding Farley), a park ranger at Banff, Allison was aware of thousands of hours of wildlife footage captured on remote trail cameras in the park. After obtaining permission from researchers, including Parks Canada, Alberta Provincial Parks and Montana State University, she spent months sifting through these low-res images. Allison originally pitched the idea to the NFB as a traditional documentary. Rob McLaughlin, then head of the National Film Board of Canada's digital studio in Vancouver, suggested an interactive project.[5]

The 20-minute story was written by J.B. MacKinnon, co-author of the 100 Mile Diet. The bear is voiced by Mia Kirshner.[1][4][6] The project was created with the two co-directors working remotely: Allison is based in Canmore, Alberta and Mendes, in Vancouver.[6] The site was designed by Toronto-based digital design firm Jam3.[7]


Bear 71 went live on the NFB website on January 19, 2012. It was also the subject of an installation at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival's New Frontier program beginning January 20, followed by the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art.[1][4]

DOXA Documentary Film Festival is opening its 2012 season with a public performance of Bear 71 at St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church, with a live musical accompaniment by Tim Hecker, Loscil and Heather McIntosh.[8]


In June 2012, Jam3 received a Gold Cyber Lion Award the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in the category of Charities, Public Health & Safety and Public Awareness Messages, for their work on Bear 71.[7] Also in June 2012, Sheffield Doc/Fest awarded Bear 71 the Sheffield Innovation Award sponsored by BT Vision. In December 2012, Bear 71 was named the best non-fiction web series at the Digi Awards (formerly Canadian New Media Awards).[9] On January 15, 2013, Bear 71 was named Site of the Year for 2012 by the Favourite Website Awards.[10] On April 30, 2013, Bear 71 received the Webby Award for best net art.[11] It also received Webby nominations for best public service & activism video, best use of interactive video and best green website.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Monk, Katherine. "Sundance: Interactive film, Bear 71, blurs lines between wild and wired". Archived from the original on 26 January 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  2. ^ a b Makarechi, Kia (24 January 2012). "'Bear 71': Interactive Film At Sundance Tells Dark Side Of Human Interaction With Wildlife". Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  3. ^ Jardine, Alexandra (1 March 2017). "National Film Board of Canada's 'Bear 71' Gets a Virtual Reality Makeover". Creativity. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Hutter, Kristy (18 January 2012). "A documentary like no other documentary". Maclean's. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  5. ^ Martel, Lynn (8 March 2012). "NFB interactive documentary stars Rockies' grizzly". Pique Newsmagazine. Retrieved 26 March 2012.
  6. ^ a b Mackie, John (11 June 2011). "NFB soars in cyberspace". Vancouver Sun. Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  7. ^ a b Barnard, Linda (22 June 2012). "NFB's Bear 71 picks up Cannes prize". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  8. ^ Mack, Adrian (4 April 2012). "DOXA Documentary Film Festival gets bigger and badder". Georgia Straight. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  9. ^ Quan, Danielle Ng See (5 December 2012). "Secret Location, NFB take two wins each at Digi Awards". Playback. Toronto: Brunico Communications. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  10. ^ "The FWA Site Of The Year 2012". Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Canadians Grimes, Justin Bieber, Bear 71 doc among Webby winners". CBC News. Associated Press. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  12. ^ "Webby Award contenders include NFB docs, Obama". CBC News. 10 October 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2013.

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