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Black Bear Image

Indie filmmakers are drawn to cabins in the woods like moths to a flame. On this occasion, it’s DIY director Allison (Aubrey Plaza) who flutters her way to an Adirondack artist retreat run by Gabe (Chris Abbott) and his pregnant partner Blair (Sarah Gadon). Desperately in need of inspiration, Allison doesn’t much care what must be sacrificed to achieve it. As she bids to manufacture "authenticity", Lawrence Michael Levine’s film and its players are abruptly reborn in notably different guises.

With the clever hipster whodunnit Wild Canaries already on his permanent record, Levine further refines his dark comic sensibilities here. At its Sundance premiere in January, Black Bear was hailed as a poignant snapshot of contemporary culture. Now, it seems more like a time capsule of a solipsistic era that was unwittingly teetering on the brink of extinction. This potent subtext lends the on-screen machinations an exhilarating fatalistic air.

"A dark comic millennial spin on the Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? template, buoyed by three expertly modulated performances and acidic bon mots." - A.A. Dowd, AV Club


Includes an interview with Director: Lawrence Michael Levine

Director Icon Director
Lawrence Michael Levine

Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott, Sarah Gadon, Paola Lázaro, Grantham Coleman
Executive Producer William G. Santor, Andrew Chang-Sang, John Hills
Producer Julie Christeas, Jonathan Blitstein, Richard J Bosner, Aubrey Plaza, Lawrence Michael Levine, Sophia Takal, Marina Grasic, Jai Khanna
Screenwriter Lawrence Michael Levine
Cinematographer Rob Leitzell
Editor Matthew Weiss
Production Design Tracy Dishman
Music Giulio Carmassi, Bryan Scary
Production Company Tandem Pictures, Oakhurst Entertainment, Blue Creek Pictures
Source Pacific Northwest Pictures
USA 2020 104 min. English


Please note that VIFF 2020 online films can be viewed in British Columbia only.

Levine, Lawrence Michael headshot


Lawrence Michael Levine wrote, directed and starred in Wild Canaries (SXSW ‘14) and Gabi on the Roof in July. He wrote and produced Always Shine (Tribeca ‘16) and co-wrote and produced Green (SXSW ‘10). Black Bear is his fourth feature as writer/director. He is married to the filmmaker Sophia Takal.

Territory (2005); Gabi on the Roof in July (2010); Wild Canaries (2014)

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