The Pitch:

“Bobby, a middle-aged outdoorsman living on a lonely farm, looks after his young sheltered nephew for the weekend. Meanwhile, bears discover fire – causing a remarkable series of events for Bobby's family in this sci-fi dramedy set in rural America.”

Bears Discover Fire is a Columbia University MFA thesis film and an adaptation of Terry Bisson's award-winning short story.

The Film:

Bears Discover Fire is a story about passing the torch, both literally and figuratively.  It’s about the loss of family, community, and a connection to the wilderness.  The characters stumble across bears that have discovered the “art” of sitting around a campfire together, while the people in their world have all but forgotten this. 

Bears Discover Fire is a family drama first and a fantastical parable second.  The most important part of Bears is our hero Bobby’s relationship with his family, especially his nephew Junior.  The question of Bobby and Junior’s relationship is central to the film’s structure and is tied to discoveries about the bears as well as their appearance at the film’s finale.

It’s an odd little tale full of idiosyncrasy and charm -- but much greater than these factors and the short story’s status in the short-fiction pantheon, Bear Discover Fire is at its heart a story about a family in extraordinary circumstances.  Like the best fiction, the set-up and structure seem recognizable but the specifics couldn’t be more unique.

Bears Discover Fire is a story that elegizes the land, the loss of the dream of the American wilderness. The bears seem to be gaining something that we humans have lost; the art of enjoying company by a warm campfire in the woods perhaps…
— John Clute, The Encycolpedia of Science Fiction