“American Bear” shows kindness still alive and well

Hunter Goddard

Maybe the world is not such a bad place after all.

If ever you are in the mood to have your faith in humanity restored, check out American Bear: An Adventure in the Kindness of Strangers at the Lyric Cinema Café Saturday at 8:15 p.m. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the directors.

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Photo courtesy of "American Bear."
Photo courtesy of American Bear.

According to co-director Sarah Sellman, the film documents a 60-day road trip with her partner, co-director Greg Grano, across 30 states. The couple relied on strangers to open their homes for them to have a place to stay each night.

Sellman is from Alamosa, Colorado. She met Grano when they were both studying film at New York University Tisch School of the Arts. According to Sellman, Fort Collins is the second stop on a nationwide screening tour for American Bear, with 35 other screenings scheduled so far.

“I grew up living in a small town and I’ve always had to create my own adventures,” Sellman said. “I used to believe that my family lived in my dad’s video camera when I was four years old, so I was obsessed with cameras as a kid.”

According to Grano, the Q&A session will be full of funny stories and anecdotes that did not make it into the film about the people they met along the way. Even though the documentary is inspiring, the directors hope to start a critical conversation over privilege in America, Grano said.

“We’re white, we’re young, and we’re a heterosexual romantic couple,” Grano said. “Did those things influence the generosity that came our way from other people?”

Grano said he has made movies for fun since he was in middle school, but ever since he began pursuing his master’s degree in cultural foundations of education at NYU, he has become motivated to create positive change through filmmaking.

“Film is an amazing medium,” Grano said. “It can reach people in ways that other art forms can’t. It can communicate emotional language in a visual way.”

Danny Ledonne edited the film. Ledonne is a film professor at Adams State University in Alamosa, where he grew up with Sellman’s family. According to Ledonne, the documentary is unique to the genre because it offers an uplifting message rather than an exposé.

American Bear seeks to capture a broad spectrum of people across America,” Ledonne said. “You may want to turn to the person next to you afterwards and give them a hug. It makes you feel better about the world and meeting new people.”

General admission tickets cost $12 and members are charged $10. The runtime is 99 minutes. The Lyric is located at 300 East Mountain, and can be reached at (970) 493-0893, or at mail@lyriccinemacafe.com.

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For those who are searching for advice on how to make it in the independent film business, or for anyone who has lost all trust in American hospitality, American Bear is the journey to take on your Saturday evening.

Collegian A&E Writer Hunter Goddard can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @hunter_gaga.