Bear 71

Reviewed by: Emma Bocking
Categories: Art

The title character of this 20-minute, interactive National Film Board documentary is a grizzly that was caught and tagged as Bear 71 in Banff National Park in 2001 at the age of three, then monitored until her death eight years later. Filmmakers Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison use a navigable online grid of her stomping grounds to catalogue their project, with photographs and trail cameras also capturing the resident lynx, hare, fox, wolf, sheep and deer populations. 

Their extensive surveillance footage serves up slices of Bear 71’s life from her perspective, recounting the grizzly’s imagined psyche in a rapidly changing landscape, where technology is omnipresent and the air is heavy with the scent of forbidden hash browns. While the sophisticated format offers an intimate, unprecedented view of a vital wildlife corridor, Mendes and Allison also ask whether we are simultaneously diminishing our connections with wilderness.

Bear 71, directed by Jeremy Mendes and Leanne Allison, Canada: National Film Board of Canada, 2012, 20 minutes

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