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September 19, 2014
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Sullivan County ‘strangers’ help launch documentary

Sellman films Grano.


One thing they discovered is that most people are willing to give if you seem to need it, especially those who have little to begin with, like the Idaho family with 12 people living in a three-bedroom house. “People have different levels of comfort with what it means to be hospitable,” said Sellman. “Many had less to give than the average person, but they believe that whatever you have, you share.”

The couple began the project feeling mostly optimistic about Americans. “Our optimism was not only proved correct, but expanded exponentially,” they contend.

“Even when we slept in our car, it was after talking to many friendly people and learning about interaction, culture and kindness. We started with a theoretical faith in the goodness of people and ended with an actual one.”

“Most of what we see in the news or on the Internet is negative,” said Sellman. “But there are at least as many positive stories out there. Everyone has a story to tell—a real, human story with real, human drama about real, human things. Beautiful things.” She adds, “The thing about strangers is, after you tell them your stories, they become your friends.”

Visit americanbearfilm.com/about for more information or to see the trailer. Sellman can be reached at 719/480-0759 or snsellman@gmail.com.


Don’t be a stranger
“American Bear” is currently in post production, as the couple has embarked on the new challenge of raising funds to complete the documentary. Utilizing an online crowdfunding kickstarter website to launch their campaign, the couple is counting, once again, on the kindness and generosity of strangers. With a January 21 deadline to raise $9,000, (more than $5,000 has been pledged so far), they are asking for pledges of support. Visit kck.st/uHYJ3s to become a friend.

The filmmakers describe themselves
Greg Grano grew up in Morristown, NJ, and recently graduated from New York University. Throughout his life, he has explored ways to translate emotions and stories into art: through classical music, songwriting and filmmaking. Grano’s films have always involved unique relationships between people, stories driven by fate or coincidence, beautiful images and an underlying optimism and hope for humanity. In his spare time, Greg has always been an explorer, enjoying long walks, hikes and road trips (mostly with Sarah). “American Bear” is his first documentary, and beyond that, the greatest experience of his life, blending his passion for adventure, filmmaking, people, and expanding all those ideas together with America and kindness—basically, it was phenomenal, and he can’t stop thinking about it, and telling stories about it, and wondering how and where to do this experiment again. Outside of all that, Greg loves pineapple, unique vegetarian food, playing the ukulele and wearing bright colors.
Sarah Sellman grew up in a bed and breakfast in a desert valley in rural Alamosa, CO. Her experiences there made her a strange sort of six year old—she has always loved talking to strangers. Her experiences in Colorado fostered her need for adventure and her ability to tell stories. So she ventured off to New York City where she attended film school at NYU. Sarah loves telling stories about people, textures and beautiful landscapes—sometimes with a hint of the surreal or fantastical and always about love and fortuity (her mother was a fan of romantic comedies and her dad had her watching sci-fi since she could speak). “American Bear” turned Sarah’s hypothetical trust in all people to an actual one and has been one of the greatest learning experiences of her life. Sarah is detail-oriented, texture-obsessed and curious about everything. Oh, and she really likes pie.