The Sedona International Film Festival will present two special premiere screenings of “American Bear” — with visiting filmmakers and a Sedona resident featured in the film — on Wednesday, Jan. 21. The film will show at 4 and 7 pm at the festival’s Mary D. Fisher Theater.
“American Bear” co-directors and subjects of the film Greg Grano and Sarah Sellman, along with Sedona host Joe Modica — who is featured in the film — will host the screenings and Q&A discussions following both shows. The Sedona stop is part of a national tour for the film.
Greg and Greg set out to critically explore American culture, compassion, and fear by relying on the kindness of strangers for a home each night. Traveling through 30 states in 60 days, they spend every day in a new town, learning why people may or may not be willing to open their homes.
Sarah and Greg spend time getting to know their hosts – each uniquely, culturally American – while the film raises questions about how we define American identities. Their own social location — white, young, middle class, heterosexual — guides the way they interact with strangers, complicating the hospitality they receive.
“American Bear” captures Americans yearning for face-to-face connections and navigating the risks inherent in sharing their stories with strangers. Each character’s voice tells a unique story: from the daughter of the last warrior woman of the Cheyenne mountain tribe whose grandson still faces bigotry in Montana; to the single mother in Oklahoma rebuilding a relationship with her mother after a history of drug abuse; to young friends in Chicago finding new ways to articulate what modern segregation looks like; each character is facing obstacles that share a unique side of the multifaceted post-9/11 American identity.
At times funny, heartbreaking, and inspirational, these individual stories reflect the daily choices we make to trust, to confide, to care for, and to sympathize. How do we develop relationships and navigate the barriers in society and in ourselves to actually form connections? While “American Bear” and its characters suggest some answers, the film offers many more questions, encouraging the viewer to take their own journey of reflection and discovery.