“Bear Run” is one of the most enlightening films I have seen in a long time. It gave me a whole new perspective on the bear sub-culture and taught me a lot. I kind of always wanted to be a bear but always felt I was too thin. I found out by watching “Bear Run” that it is not just weight and fur that makes a man a bear but attitude plays the dominant role. I also learned of “trans” bears (Female to Male) and a whole new vocabulary.
Dan Hunt and Janet Baus have certainly put their hearts into this wonderful documentary about life in the bear world. The film centers on the lives of three loveable bears—Mikhael, our “trans” bear, Louie, former International Bear Cub winner, and Mike, a God loving and proud bear. Each has quite a story and each shows us a great deal about himself and his community. There is a certain tenderness to what each man has to say and their tales are eye opening.
Another thing that I learned here is that there are many more men involved in bear life than I have ever thought. The community that these bears live in is full of love and based upon mutual respect. I especially loved the explanation of how bear culture came to be and it something that we, who are not members of the beautiful people; the gay men who seem to guide the way we act and dress, can relate to.
We are taken to the different rituals of bear culture—bear runs, bear camping, bear soup ( a swimming pool filled with hot and hairy men), bear pageants. Wherever there are groups of bears there is a lot of love and the film shows that over and over. I am sure I was smiling as I watched the film—watching these guys having a good time just made me feel good.
I learned that almost every weekend there are 3 to 4 bear events going on all over the country and it is like there is a bear circuit. The guys will travel to meet their friends and there is a great sense of family among them.
The focal areas highlighted here include Provincetown, New York City, Montreal, Chicago (an enormous bear party) and Albany, New York. Wherever the filming is taking place, the bears are there having fun.
Perhaps the most important thing that “Bear Run” does is break down the stereotypes that many hold about gay men. Maybe bears are not the classic idea of the refined and elegant gay men but they have something special and to understand that, you have to see this film.
There are some great extras on the DVD as well—extra stories from the three main characters, Louie’s home movies, a short course in bear history and culture and additional footage from bear events around the U.S.
Here is a great opportunity to see what it is being a mature gay man in the twenty-first century. You will be so glad you saw it.