Shown at Sundance this year, the project called Bear 71 is unique spin on a documentary concept. Using an interactive graphical interface, the user can explore Canada's Bow Valley, and click on points of interest like wolves and bears. It's also a linear story being told through a warm, inviting voiceover, while video clips that move the story forward narrative are interspersed. The user fills in the gaps by exploring the valley and viewing images which give a glimpse into the hidden world of the wild.
Working with the National Film Board of Canada, the projects creators decided to not make this like a typical documentary, with stunning landscapes and archived images interspersed. Instead, the role that technology plays in the film takes on a whole new level since the interactive grid is a nod to the main idea of the film– that man has made this place not wild. One million photos are used, as taken from wildlife surveillance cameras in Banff National Park. You can check out this experience here, using your internet browser or iPad.
From Fastcocreate: “Everyone I’ve talked to who’s experienced it is at the same time kind of in awe and sad and somewhat creeped out--I think that’s good,” says Bear 71 co-creator Leanne Allison. “For me, it’s a success if people want to shut down their computers and go crawl under a tree for a while.” And while the documentarian remains in sync with her environmentalist roots, she quickly came to the idea of merging the story of Bear 71, a radio-collared grizzly closely monitored from 2001 to 2009, with a parable for a tech-dominated society.
This media project is set up at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art until May, and is also online. I'm interested in hearing what you think of this approach for a documentary, and what you thought of the voiceover telling the story here. Leave some comments below!