Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala’s Bear Story won the Oscar for Best Animated Short. It is Chile’s first ever Oscar Academy Award. | Photo: Bear Story
The animated short Bear Story tells the story of a sad bear torn away from his family, a symbol of the suffering under Chile’s military dictatorship.
February 28 2016
A Chilean filmmaker made history on Sunday, bringing home the first ever Oscar Academy Award for the South American country with the animated film Bear Story, winner of the Best Animated Short.
“Bear Story” is an ingenious, dazzling piece of 3D animation, the sad story of a lonesome bear who builds an elaborate mechanical diorama in an attempt to remember (and perhaps recover) the life he used to live with his wife and son, before he was ripped from his home and sent to a circus.
But underneath the cuddly and melancholy main characters is a deeper metaphor for Chilean viewers, who will see parallels between the bear’s personal struggle and loss, and the country’s tragic history of families separated during the bloody Pinochet military dictatorship that came to power through a U.S.-backed coup in the early 1970’s
“The idea was mainly inspired by the story of my grandfather,” said Osorio. “He was exiled from Chile in the ’70s and spent 10 years in England — I knew that I had a grandfather, but I didn’t meet him when I was a kid.”
Osorio made the main character a bear in part because he remembered his grandfather being physically imposing.
“I felt like the story shouldn’t be too literal,” he said. “But it’s very clear to audiences in Chile what it’s really about. And it’s interesting that in countries that have similar stories, like Russia, they make a connection to their own stories.”
It took two years, spread out over about five years
It took a team of animators at Punkrobot, a Chilean animation company founded by Osorio and two friends, two years of steady work to make “Bear Story” — but those two years were spread out over about five years in total, interrupted by other projects the company is working on.
“For me, the biggest challenge with everything I do is to tell the story in a way that can be entertaining, and at the same time get across the message I want,” he said. “You never want to be too obvious, and you always want to do it in an interesting way.”
“Bear Story,” is directed by Gabriel Osorio and produced by Pato Escala.
“This is the first Oscar for our country, so this is very important to us,” said Escala while accepting the award. “Viva Chile!”