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Bear 71

Wildlife in Banff National Park from the perspective of a grizzly bear and that of the park rangers watching her 24 hours a day.

In Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains, Canada, various wild animals are implanted with a GPS receiver and a chip, and from that moment they’re known as numbers: Deer 48, Fox 21, Bear 71. The parl rangers know exactly where they are every moment of every day, and they film their daily comings and goings using the security cameras they set up all over the park. Web documentary Bear 71 lets us watch over their shoulders, to disturbing effect. Director Leanne Allison’s husband, a Banff park ranger, gave her thousands of hours of grainy surveillance footage from the park, from which she and digital documentary pioneer Jeremy Mendes, focusing on 3-year-old grizzly Bear 71. In voice-over, she explains how the animals are being pushed ever further into the mountains by advancing freeways, train tracks, and nature tourism. The immense amounts of data and surveillance material allow the audience to follow the proceedings in the park on an interactive map. Humans rule this territory, but remotely, from behind their monitors. The site’s visitors, likewise watching a screen, are forced to share the perspective of the guard/voyeur. Slowly but surely, we become aware of a primal human urge to grab hold of new technologies to exert control and to repress.

Project details

Year of development :2012
Created by:Jeremy Mendes, Leanne Allison
With:Digital Studio and Produced by the National Film Board of Canada
Full project credits

Available formats

Official website

http://bear71.nfb.ca/bear71