Christian Frei and Maxim Arbugaev unearth efforts to resurrect the wooly mammoth.
World Cinema Documentary Competition
Sundance Program Description:
Two sets of sojourners passionately pursue the remains of the storied, long-extinct woolly mammoth: a small population of scavengers in the Siberian Islands who unearth mammoth tusks (prized in the Chinese art market) from the harsh landscape, and a loosely-knit international community of scientists who now seek to revive the mammoth through cutting-edge synthetic-biology technologies.
While the two groups in Christian Frei’s GENESIS 2.0 are united in their reverence for the mammoth, a subtle disquiet undergirds all their activities: both the disturbance of mammoth remains (a longstanding cultural taboo), and the engineering of life forms through cloning, genome sequencing, and the like, making humans potentially the co-authors of natural life and opening a Pandora’s box of ethical considerations. The hulking figure of the mammoth is the thematic phantom haunting Frei’s gripping documentary – and its dramatic fulcrum. The unprecedented, on-camera excavation of a largely intact mammoth is a rare privilege for viewers, and it’s also an alarming harbinger of a bold future visited by fearsome and long-untouched secrets of the past.
Past Sundance docs:
SPACE TOURISTS (2010, World Cinema Documentary Directing Award)
THE GIANT BUDDHAS (2006)
Frei was nominated for an Academy Award for his doc feature, WAR PHOTOGRAPHER.
This is the Moscow-based Siberian director and cinematographer’s first film at Sundance. His previous short doc, THE HUNTERS, which screened at Visions du Réel, also explored the work of mammoth hunters.
Past Sundance docs:
THE BLACK POWER MIXTAPE 1967-1975 (2011, commissioning editor)
BOBBY FISCHER AGAINST THE WORLD (2011, executive producer)
COMRADES IN DREAMS (2007, commissioning editor)
Pieper is ARTE/ZDF’s commissioning editor for culture and science programs.
Augstburger is head of co-productions for Switzerland’s SRF/SRG and an accomplished novelist. This is his first Sundance credit.
This also marks Bachmann’s first project at Sundance.
Why You Should Watch:
Frei and Arbugaev deftly balance parallel tracks as they present an on-the-ground look at the thankless, dirty field work in remote Siberia and the market for the hunters’ discoveries, while also exploring the expansive, thought-provoking, yet ethically-disturbing promise of cutting edge genetic engineering to reverse thousands-year-long extinction.
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.