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the film


This film meditates on the last days of old grizzly bears as a window into exploring human attitudes about aging and death.

Two old brown bears - one male, one female - are nearing the end of their lives in Alaska. It is the fall, and the other bears are preparing for the winter, forging, fighting, and fishing. Although the old bears were once strong, they now spend their days lying peacefully on the beach, looking out onto the bounty of the Alaskan wilderness. After rich lifetimes, they will die in their winter dens in the same mountains they were born.

Filmmaker and naturalist Casey Anderson has traveled to Alaska to observe the transition of grizzly bears preparing for the winter. However, although he is surrounded by much younger animals, he finds himself gravitating to the old bears. As he observes their final weeks, Casey meditates on what these bears could teach humans about a life well lived and age gracefully accepted. Through personal reflections, he processes the aging process and growing decline of his own father, how having children has affected his own perspective of life and death, and what it means to surrender to the wild.


Through poetic, surprising, and contemplatively paced footage of the old bears and the stunning Alaskan landscapes, we share in Casey’s observations about transitions and death in the wilderness. It is set to a haunting original score by M. G. Clark. Through the artful melding of the words and images, the old bears become guides into a life gracefully lived.

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The layered video, poetic vfx, and a moody color correction treatment combine with the pensive writing show a new way that nature stories can be told. 

As career film editors, co-directors Julie Busse and Candice Odgers paid special attention to the art of editing, and used every cut to help the film flow in a reflective, calm, and poignant way. The original score by M.C. Clark enhances the film’s patient feel.

Casey Anderson's sharing of his thoughts on life, death, and parenthood bravely offer in a window to how life and death can fit into the rhythm of nature, as opposed to fighting against it.

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The mission


The spectacular footage was filmed by the Vision Hawk Films team in Katmai National Park (Katmai National Park is homeland of the Alutiiq/Sugpiaq, Dena'ina Athabascan, and Yupik people.)

The Vision Hawk Films cinematographers lived for a month in Katmai National Park to capture the animals and wilderness seen in The Old Bear. 

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