8 minutes

Shaggy bear story: a German filmmaker grapples with his dear grandfather’s Nazi past

Note: English subtitles for this video are available by clicking the ‘CC’ button on the bottom right of the video player.

As the Second World War fades further into the past, the passage of time can make firsthand accounts told by its survivors and participants feel less like their own lived experience and more like distant fables or pages from history books. The German filmmaker and animator Pascal Floerks grew up hearing such stories from his grandfather, once a Nazi paratrooper who killed, and saw friends killed, in battle. In Bär, Floerks examines his relationship with his grandfather, not only as a Nazi veteran, but as a gardener, car collector, painter and dear family member. Twisting a convention of the personal documentary genre, Floerks uses archival photography to tell his grandfather’s story, but replaces his likeness with that of a bear, invoking the duality of the man’s warmth and his potential for violence. The result is jarring and haunting – a deeply personal account of a grandson-grandfather relationship and the universal drift between generations that cannot be detached from a terrible history.

Director: Pascal Floerks

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