THE FILM: Armed with only curiosity and a camera, dynamic couple Sarah and Greg test the compassion of Americans by relying on the kindness of strangers for a home each night. They spend every day in a new town, hoping that someone will be generous enough to open their home to two young strangers.
Following a route conceived when Greg spoke out in his sleep, the couple is literally chasing a dream through the five towns in the country called Bear - spanning between Washington, Idaho, Arizona, Arkansas, and Delaware.
Led by Sarah and Greg through a vast landscape of geography and characters, the film expands to paint a portrait of Americans as a community, and to answer questions about the people who aren’t us and the places that aren’t our homes. From the daughter of the last warrior woman of the Cheyenne mountain tribe in Montana; to a mother in Idaho dealing with the recent death of her youngest daughter; to friends in Mississippi trying to understand the “country” stereotype, maybe even reclaim it – each character is eager to share their own story. Ultimately, the film presents a cross-section of Americans yearning for connection, and able to find it in the kindness of strangers.
THE TOUR: American Bear is going on tour in Fall 2014! We are bringing the film to colleges, high schools, theaters, and community organizations across the country. Screenings, Q&As, educational discussion, kindness events, and more: learn more and think about building your own event with our Info Packet.
Greg Grano Greg Grano holds a BFA in Film and Television from New York University and an MS in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University. Greg has studied narrative writing and directing, but has recently moved towards documentary work with an eye for American social concerns. Inspired by the kindness and personal connections he experienced on the road, Greg now works closely with students to develop their leadership potential and cultivate engaged citizenship through his position in residence life at Syracuse University. Greg plans to bring his passion for education and storytelling together through collaborative work with members of vulnerable populations. He would like to meet you and thank you for checking out "American Bear."
Sarah Sellman Sarah Sellman grew up in a Bed and Breakfast in a desert valley in rural Alamosa, Colorado. Her experiences at the Bed and Breakfast made her a strange sort of six year old—she has always loved talking to strangers. Her experiences in Colorado fostered her need for adventure and her ability to tell stories. So she ventured off to New York City where she attended film school at NYU. Sarah loves telling stories about people, textures and beautiful landscapes—sometimes with a hint of the surreal or fantastical and always about love and fortuity (her mother was always a fan of romantic comedies and her dad had her watching sci-fi since she could speak). "American Bear" turned Sarah's hypothetical trust in all people to an actual one and has been one of the greatest learning experiences of her life. Sarah is detail oriented, texture obsessed and curious about everything. Oh, and she really likes pie. And Greg. And probably you!
Danny Ledonne Editor Danny Ledonne is an environmental filmmaker, teacher, and avid hiker. He holds an MFA in Film/Electronic Media from American University. He has produced, shot, and edited award-winning shorts and feature length narrative and documentary films. He is the owner/operator of Emberwilde Productions and regularly works with youth development programs to introduce kids to media production skills. A Colorado native and longtime friend of Sarah Sellman, Danny heard about "American Bear" early on and stuck around until he convinced Sarah and Greg to send him all the raw footage to edit into a movie!
Carlos Zozaya Assistant Editor Carlos is a motivated filmmaker currently enrolled at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for Film & TV. Apart from writing and directing, he is extremely passionate about editing and will spend days in a dark room furiously pressing buttons until that edit is perfect.
Jake Kolton Assistant Editor Born and raised in Indiana, Jake Kolton is concluding his freshman year at New York University where he studies film and television at Tisch School of the Arts. Jake’s film career began as a five year old when he adapted Star Wars into a claymation short film. Ever since, Jake has been dabbling in the world of filmmaking, focusing in stylized narrative featuring heavy aesthetic direction. Jake has recently expanded his interests to documentary filmmaking through his involvement with American Bear.
Tessa Treanor Producer, Outreach Coordinator Tessa Treanor graduated from Film and Television at NYU with a focus in directing and producing for film. As well as working on numerous student films she interned for a year at Cinereach, a nonprofit organization offering grants to films from underrepresented perspectives, and also worked as part of the Marketing & Outreach Team for The Dry Land (2010).
Amanda Sabater Assistant Marketing Coordinator Amanda Sabater graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. She has been lucky enough to travel to nineteen countries in her lifetime and in doing so has witnessed incredible acts of kindness, extreme poverty and overall many different lifestyles. She is thrilled to be on the American Bear team helping to promote a film about kindness, travel and ultimately understanding our many differences. She also really likes sharks - great white sharks.
Hari Ziyad Internet Presence Coordinator Hari Ziyad is a recent graduate of New York University with a degree in Film and Television from the Tisch School of the Arts. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, even as a child he was always fascinated with all forms of artistic creation - drawing, sculpting, writing -but especially filmmaking.
Savannah Winchester Producer Savannah Winchester graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Among other things, she loves corgis, smiles, dinosaurs, and making movies.
Julia Kipnis Assistant Social Media Coordinator Julia is a current film student at Syracuse University's College of Visual and Performing Arts, where she focuses on cinematography and editing. Her cinematic interests include cerebral narratives and engaging realism.
Music by Breathe Owl Breathe.