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‘Bear Story’ wins BIFF 2017 Best Animated Short Film award


Bear Story 02Last night, the Bonita Springs International Film Festival announced its 2017 winners, and the award for Best Animated Short Film was Bear Story. The win was just the latest for this Academy Award-winning Chilean film written and directed by Gabriel Osorio Vargas.

In the 11-minute animated short, a melancholy old bear takes a mechanical diorama that he has created out to his street corner where, for a coin, passersby can look into the peephole of his invention to watch the story of a circus bear who longs to escape and return to the family from which he was taken.

To viewers outside Chile, it’s a sad story about a separated family. To those familiar with that Bear Story 01country’s horrific history under former dictator Augusto Pinochet, it’s a metaphor for the way his regime destroyed families. To Muslim refugees, the 5.3 million children living in the United States with undocumented immigrant parents, and the children and spouses of the nearly 1,000,000 undocumented parents who have been dBear Story 03eported since 2009, Bear Story possesses a poignant immediacy not intended by the filmmaker.

Pinochet rose to power in 1973 following a coup d’état. Shortly after, Vargas’ grandfather was arrested and imprisoned. Afterwards, he fled to England and was forced to live in exile, apart from Bear Story 11his family.

“When I was born, my grandfather was still living in exile and I grew up with this image of a grandfather that for some reason was forbidden from returning to the country and be with his family,” Osorio has stated in interviews. “That marked a great part of my childhood, and that Bear Story 14somehow pushed me tell the story of this character that is forcibly separated from his family and how terrible it is to return after many years in exile and realize that nothing is like it used to be.”

It took Osorio and some of Chile’s best artists and animators more than two years of hard work to Bear Story 07make the film. Vargas and his team used a looser, more elegant style to portray the bear in present time and a more meticulously crafted metallic world of meshing gears and rolling pins for the realm depicted inside the bear’s diorama. “Both visual styles were a challenge in terms of the technical aspects because it, in fact, required us to make two Bear Story 09different short films. It was also important to reflect the hard work and affection that the bear puts into the making of those figures because for him they represent his family, his memories. This also relates to the work we did as animators.”

Bear Story 13The effort that Osorio, his artists and animators put into Bear Story have paid immense dividends. In addition to the Academy Award and Bonita Springs International Film Festival’s Best Animated Film award, Bear Story has earned over 50 international awards, including

  • Bear Story 15“Best Animation” Palm Springs Shortfest,
  • “Grand Jury Prize” Nashville Film Festival 2015,
  • “Best Animated Short” RiverRun Film Festival 2015,
  • “Best Animated Short” CIFF, Cleveland Ohio, 2015,
  • Bear Story 06“Best Animation” DCIFF, Washington DC, 2015,
  • “Best International Film”, Little Big Shots, Australia, 2015,
  • “Best Animation” AluCine Latin Film Festival, Canada 2015,
  • “Junior Audience Award” HAFF, Holland, 2015,
  • “Audience Award” Klik! Festival, Amsterdam, November Bear Story 042014,
  • “Grand Prize” Kuandu International Festival, Taiwan, September 2014,
  • “Grand Prize” Animasyros, Greece, August 2014,
  • “Best Children’s Short Film” Animamundi, August 2014,
  • “Best Art Direction”, Animamundi, August 2014,
  • Bear Story 05“Best Shortfilm”, SANFIC, Chile, October 2014, and
  • “Best National Short Film” Chilemonos, May 2014.

While Osoria is well pleased with the film’s success, he does not want viewers to lose sight of the questions Bear Story leaves Bear Story 10unanswered. “What happened to the bear’s family? Where are they? These are the same questions that thousands of families ask themselves,” states Osorio. “Up to this day, many still don’t know where their loved ones ended up. I hope these questions never need to be asked again.”

Bear Story 08Scores of Muslim refugees and more than 11 million undocumented immigrants hope so too.

January 30, 2017.



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