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  • Brandon MacMurray

Bear Review

Bear, dir. Morgane Frund

As Morgane Frund sets out to make her graduation film using the footage of amateur nature documentarian, Urs Amrein, she uncovers a cache of images. Interspersed amongst innocent footage of bears frolicking and hunting are leering clips of young women being filmed without their consent. Having discovered the images, Frund is compelled to start a conversation about the male gaze with him as well as the audience. The ensuing dialogue makes up the majority of the film, Ours, translated in English to Bear. 

The conversation between Morgane and Urs feels honest, even constructive at times, but never loses sight of the ubiquity of the problem. Alongside their on-screen discussions of misogyny and objectification, we are presented a series of clips from Amrein’s archive, which are curated and edited so incredibly well as to almost profile Amrein’s particular brand of banal misogyny without necessitating further commentary. While the film is visually striking, form ultimately follows function, and no clip feels superfluous. What Frund chooses to omit is just as crucial as what is included. One clip, which she says was her first encounter with his voyeurism, she describes in some detail. It focused partially on a child.  If included it may have created an especially intense moment for the film and increased its emotional impact. However, Frund, unlike Amrein, has respect for the women he filmed. 

Several moments of this film focus on Frund’s own experiences with misogyny. As a woman, it’s impossible to disentangle my reaction to this film from my gender identity. Upon discovering these images, Frund is immediately reminded of the first time she noticed she was being sexualized by a grown man as an unwitting 15 year old girl on the subway. Many, if not all, women have had a similar experience. The grown man who grabbed my butt as I walked down the street on a class field trip in high school. The high school boy who stepped on my hair from the bleacher above me, yanking it back, so he could look down my shirt when I was in sixth grade. My sense of self is irrevocably tied to the way these men saw me: an object for them to watch and even touch without my consent. 

As a woman, it is common knowledge that the simple act of existing in public leaves you exposed, at the mercy of strange men who would catalog your image for their own personal use. Divorced entirely from your humanity, your beauty may be appropriated to bring him pleasure. Frund does her best to explain to Amrein why this kind of objectification is harmful, describing in the simplest terms that it makes her feel sad to be looked at in the way he looks at women. While he sometimes seems apologetic in response to her discomfort, his own footage speaks for itself. At one point she says she often feels that she’s being watched, and he responds, “Do you really feel like you’re being watched all the time? Or is it just your imagination?” A clip immediately follows: a woman nervously looking around, eventually noticing Amrein filming her and turning away in obvious discomfort.

Ours is beautifully directed and edited. Amrein’s footage offers the audience a chance to see women from his point of view, and alongside Frund’s examination of her own experiences, we see the harmful and corrosive nature of everyday misogyny and objectification of women. For me, this film in many ways reinforced some of my deepest insecurities. I am not sure how men will react to this, but I am hopeful that something will be revealed to them that they may have been heretofore blissfully unaware of: “We know we are being watched.”

Review by: Rachel Epstein



The short end of the stick: The inferior part, the worse side of an unequal deal

When it comes to cinema and the Oscars it always feels like short films and getting the short end of the stick. Lack of coverage, lack of predictions from experts and an afterthought in the conversation. With this site we hope to change that, highlighting shorts that stick with you, predictions, and news on what is happening in the world of shorts. 

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