Synopsis: In this animated tale, a bear uses mechanical figures to relate the story of his oppressed life to one cub at a time.
What was the inspiration for Bear Story? Where did the idea come from?
Bear Story is inspired by my family history, specifically my grandfather who was exiled from Chile during the 1973 coup d'etat. That was the starting point for the story of the film, which talks about the importance of family and how terrible it is to be torn apart from your loved ones.
This film has a wonderful eye for detail. What forms of animation were used to make the film and how long did it take to make?
Although some people think it is a stop motion film, Bear Story uses 3D animation. It was all done digitally. Nevertheless, we used a variety of techniques to achieve the style we wanted. For example, we made a clay model of the bear and then we scanned it into the computer. That way the essence of the handmade process is visible in the final digital model. Within the film itself, there are several animation techniques. See the paper shadows when the bear is kidnapped (bearnapped?) or the animated posters of the circus. I wanted to pay homage to the process of animation. The bear himself is a sort of animator, bringing the tin puppets to life. We took around two years to make the film, in between other projects.
Chile has seen its share of political repression. What influence did Chilean political history have on this film?
As I mentioned earlier, the film is directly influenced by the Pinochet dictatorship. My grandfather, Leopoldo Osorio, was detained in 1973 during Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile. He was incarcerated for two years, after which he fled to England, forced to live in exile and be apart from his family. During my childhood, I felt the invisible presence of an absent grandfather, who was not dead, but was not present in my life. My short film Bear Story is not about the life of my grandfather, but it is inspired by his absence and the mark it left on me. Bear Story leaves some questions unanswered. What happened to the bear's family? Where are they? These are the same questions that thousands of families in Chile ask themselves, who up to this day, still don't know where their loved ones ended up. I hope these questions never need to be asked again.
How did the subject influence the style and the story?
I chose a bear as a protagonist because he represents a typical circus animal. He is also inspired by my grandfather, who would tower over me when I was a child, so I always thought of him as bear-like because he was so big and tall. The scenery is inspired by my home city, Santiago, specifically my childhood neighborhood, Quinta Normal. There are a lot of factories and concrete buildings, which were a big influence on the gritty style of the bear's surroundings. The bear's profession is inspired by the classic Japanese storytellers, the kamishibai. That is why the bear has a bicycle and a little theater where he tells his story, except he uses tin marionettes instead of drawings.
What do you want people to take away from this film after watching it?
I think the most important message that I wish the audience gets from my film is how precious and significant those moments are when we can be with our loved ones. Maybe it's a lot to ask but, after watching the film, it would be nice to think the spectators went and hugged their parents, their children, their significant others.
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