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BEARS

Production Information
"Bears" captures the fast-moving action and suspense of life in one of the planet's last great wildernesses-Alaska. "Bears are a symbol of North America," says director Alastair Fothergill. "We want to take audiences to one of the most beautiful places in the world-an area people hope to visit, but never do. Now they can see Alaska through the eyes of a mother bear and her cubs."

"The brown bear is strong and intelligent, gentle and incredibly social," adds director Keith Scholey. "And unlike any other animal, they hold a special place in our hearts-we all had a teddy bear growing up. Bears are perfect for storytelling."

In an epic story of breathtaking scale, Disneynature's upcoming True Life Adventure "Bears" showcases a year in the life of a bear family as two impressionable young cubs are taught life's most important lessons. Set against a majestic backdrop teeming with life, their journey begins as winter comes to an end and the bears emerge from hibernation to face the bitter cold. The world outside is exciting-but risky-as the cubs' playful descent down the mountain carries with it a looming threat of avalanches. As the season changes from spring to summer, the brown bears must work hard to find food-ultimately feasting at a plentiful salmon run-while staying safe from rival male bears and predators, including an ever-present wolf.

Choosing the best place to film "Bears" was imperative. "While Alaska is the classic place to see brown bears, it's remarkably vast," says co-director Adam Chapman.

The Alaskan peninsula offered ample opportunity for the filmmakers, who spent much of their shoot in Katmai National Park and Preserve. One bay in particular seemed to feature a jackpot for hungry bears. "There's a fantastic meadow system where bears will flock early in the season to eat sedges," says Chapman. "Then there are the mud flats at the coastline, which are riddled with clams when the tide goes out. A bootleg nearby lets moms with spring cubs get up high where they can see potential threats. And the final elements that made filming so special were the creek and river that have extraordinary runs of salmon every summer-pretty much like clockwork-creating a fishing bonanza with bears feeding alongside wolves.

"We spent a lot of time filming along that coastline," continues Chapman. "It's so remote-just getting there is an adventure. The area is untouched; the bears don't have any negative experiences with people, so they were able to relax and behave like bears normally behave."

Filmmakers hope to show moviegoers the true dynamic of the brown bear. Says Scholey, "A lot of people think that we're crazy to film bears on location in such a remote area. But these animals don't deserve the reputation they have. They are not out to hurt people. They are big, powerful animals with a remarkably gentle nature. We never felt threatened by the bears."

"We were able to capture incredible footage of this mother's plight to feed her cubs," says Fothergill. "It's a terrible dilemma she faces-wherever there's food, there's danger. And when she's able to find refuge, there's not much food. Every parent can relate to her struggle in a way. We all face tough choices every day and sometimes just have to hope we're doing what's best."

Narrator John C. Reilly agrees. "I remember going to New York City for the first time with little kids. It might as well have been bears on the street. I can absolutely relate to the protective feelings a mother bear gets when looking after little ones."

Reilly, who lent his voice to Ralph in Disney's "Wreck-It Ralph," returned to the recording studio for "Bears." "With these bears," he says, "it almost looks like there's a person inside-the way that they move, relax, play and eat. They enjoy themselves. They take big naps after Thanksgiving dinner like my whole family does."

"Disneynature's film 'African Cats' was a big drama with a lot of action and big characters," says Scholey. "And 'Chimpanzee' was a far gentler film that was often very funny. What we love about 'Bears' is that it's really the best of both worlds."

"Bears" is directed by Fothergill ("Earth," "African Cats" and "Chimpanzee") and Scholey ("African Cats"), co-directed by Chapman ("North America," "Big Cat Diary") and produced by Scholey and Chapman. With music by George Fenton ("Gandhi"), "Bears" arrives in theaters April 18, 2014, to celebrate Earth Day.

SEE "BEARS," PROTECT OUR NATIONAL PARKS invites moviegoers to see the film during opening week (April 18-24, 2014) and Disneynature, through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, will make a contribution to the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks, to protect wildlife and wild places across America's national park system. "We can't wait to share these bears' fascinating behaviors and innate curiosity as they navigate a beautiful but challenging world," says Alan Bergman, president of The Walt Disney Studios. "We are committed to protecting the environment and inspiring Disneynature fans to take part in conservation by joining forces with organizations like the National Park Foundation to preserve the natural world."

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