Clara and the Secret of the Bears

Clara and the secret of the bears has all the ingredients of a good ghost story. And although it’s rated as being ok for younger viewers, this film has enough edge to keep adults entertained.

Created by a team from Switzerland and Germany, the film is in German with English subtitles.

Clara, a 13 year old living with her mother and her mother’s partner in his grandmother’s old house, unknowingly starts to follow in the footsteps of the grandmother. Most particularly, in communicating with a little girl who lived in the house 200 years before.

Both girls share a passion for protecting local wild bears, and both face significant challenges in protecting the animals, who are considered pests by some locals.

Clara is played fantastically by Ricarda Zimmerer who gives an utterly believable performance in often supernatural circumstances. Her school friend and largely superfluous sidekick, Thomas is played well by Damian Hardung. Rifka Fehr plays a young girl in 1808, also very well.

Clara is first to spot the bear cub thought to have starved to death when its mother was hunted, and she’s sure the cub’s father is watching her from the forest too. Some inventive camera work shows the point of view of the bears – or is it the spirit of young Rifka from 200 years ago?

With her reports of bear sightings largely ignored – Clara befriends the bear cub.

In terms of ghost stories there isn’t much this one doesn’t have – spooky old ladies with magic cats, books of spells, fiery witches, superstitions magic charms and messages from the dead. For the most part Clara and the Secret of the Bears manages to tell this story without being twee or feeling like a story book. The scenes from 1808 in particular are dark and utterly convincing.

As an ecological warning or just a good story, Clara and the Secret of the Bears is a beautifully-shot, entertaining film


Clara and the Secret of the Bears is showing at Melbourne International Film Festival. 


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