"American Bear: An Adventure In The Kindness Of Strangers" is an inspiring exploration of our country through trust, fear, and hospitality, across America and between Americans. In the summer of 2010, armed with nothing but their curiosity and a camera, Sarah and Greg traveled the country relying on the kindness of strangers for a home each night. Every day they were in a new town, meeting new people, and hoping that someone would be generous enough to open their home to two young strangers. Appearing on-screen as guides and adventurers, Greg and Sarah encounter some of America's most interesting citizens.
American Bear is about a young couple spending 60 days together, 24/7, making the passion project of their lives: enriched by the hundreds of strangers (and new friends) they met and the variety of American landscape. It all began a year earlier, during another road trip, when Greg spoke out in his sleep, saying "We have to go to Bear, Colorado!" Sarah and Greg were thrilled by this dream-destiny –- and disappointed when their search proved Bear, CO doesn't exist. Fortunately, there are five other Bears in the country, that make a perfect horseshoe between Washington, Idaho, Arizona, Arkansas, and Delaware -- their fate-driven blueprint through 30 states around the country.
"American Bear" invites audiences to experience the adventure themselves, explore American culture, and the beautiful kindness of strangers that's hiding around every corner of every small town and big city across the country.
Greg Grano Greg Grano grew up in Morristown, NJ, and graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Throughout his life, Greg has explored ways to translate emotions and stories into art: through classical music, songwriting, and especially filmmaking. Greg's films have always involved unique relationships between people, stories driven by fate or coincidence, beautiful images, and an underlying optimism and hope for humanity. In his spare time, Greg has always been an explorer, enjoying long walks, hikes, and road trips (mostly with Sarah!). "American Bear" is his first documentary, and beyond that, the greatest experience of his life, blending his passion for adventure, filmmaking, people, and expanding all those ideas together with America and kindness—basically, it was phenomenal, and he can't stop thinking about it, and telling stories about it, and wondering how and where to do this experiment again. Outside of all that, Greg loves pineapple, unique vegetarian food, playing the ukulele, and wearing bright colors. 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 an undergraduate senior at New York University studying Film and Television in 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 is a senior film student in 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.