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In PLEISTOCENE PARK an eccentric Russian scientist's quixotic quest to recreate a vanished ice age ecosystem and save the world from a catastrophic global warming feedback loop.


Seeking no one's help and asking nobody's permission, Russian geophysicist Sergey Zimov and his son Nikita are gathering any large woolly beast they can get their hands on, and transporting them, by whatever low budget means they can contrive, to the most remote corner of Siberia. They call their project Pleistocene Park. The goal: restore the Ice Age "mammoth steppe" ecosystem and avoid a catastrophic feedback loop leading to runaway global warming. Sergey would know: fifteen years ago he published a paper in the journal Science showing that frozen arctic soils contain twice as much carbon as the earth's atmosphere. These soils are now starting to melt.

The clock is ticking. Impacts of climate change—hurricanes, wildfires, heat waves and floods—are being felt sooner than anticipated. Sergey and Nikita find alarming evidence that permafrost is reaching its tipping point now, rather than in thirty years as they predicted. On a global scale, progress addressing the root cause of climate change—anthropogenic carbon emissions—is as elusive as ever.

Can two Russian scientists stave off a worst case scenario of global environmental catastrophe and reshape humanity's relationship with the natural world?

100 minutes
SDH Captioned

Directed by Luke Griswold-Tergis
Produced by Jed Riffe, Luke Griswold-Tergis
Editor, Co-Producer: Maureen Gosling
Cinematographer: Luke Griswold-Tergis
Writing Supervisor: Sharon Wood
Composer: Dan Cantrell
Co-Executive Producer: Gerald Herman
Animation: Alkanoids
A Mammoth Step Productions in association with Jed Riffe Films

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COMMUNITY SCREENINGS (single events with license to charge admission)
$100 Small Community Screening (1-50 people)
$200 Medium Community Screening (51-100 people)
$350 Large Community Screening (100+ people)

"Bravo! Wow, I love this film! It has folly, it has beauty, defeat, perseverance, despair, and success—like life."
Kevin White, Executive Director, Filmmakers Collaborative SF

"Within the heaviness of our world, PLEISTOCENE PARK will make you smile, giggle and consider what you need to do to combat climate change. Energetic. Inspiring."
Melanie Zuzarte, ThirtyFour Flavour

"A wild ride into a visionary world...A captivating and unfailingly entertaining take on an important and serious subject, bounded by a father-son relationship of reason versus obsession."
Jury Statement of Olomouc International Festival of Science Documentaries

"Luke's film is incredible because its subject is incredible, and the film is utterly true to the subject—the saga of a family solving an infinity of small impossible problems in order to help solve one enormous impossible problem—the catastrophic melting of the arctic permafrost. The Zimovs embody science and engineering at its shaggy, gritty, indomitable, Russian best."
Stewart Brand, President, The Long Now Foundation

"A beautiful personal portrait of Sergey and Nikita Zimov in their Herculean endeavor to re-establish a far North-Eastern Siberian ecosystem which prevailed during the last ice ages. Key of this undertaking is a large density of herbivores, which, by trampling the snow allow the cold from the winter atmosphere to penetrate the ground. This helps to preserve the underlying permafrost soil from disastrous melting with potentially huge impacts on the global climate through release of greenhouse gases. With fantastic footage the film immerses the viewer into the beautiful Siberian Arctic environment and documents the painstaking logistical, technical and mental struggle to bring large animals, such as yaks, reindeer and even bison all the way from Russia and Europe to the remote park in the Arctic."
Martin Heimann, Emeritus Director, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

"Beautifully filmed and conceived...Based on a long-term and personal engagement with the Zimov family, Luke Griswold-Tergis tells a compelling story, part science documentary, part tragicomedy of errors, of one family living in the remote Arctic on a grand quest to save humanity from impending climate catastrophe. PLEISTOCENE PARK will be an excellent addition to the classroom in environmental science, anthropology, and Russian and Eurasian Studies."
Anya Bernstein, Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University

"A brilliant film. PLEISTOCENE PARK offers self-deprecation, insight, and the challenge of what life in the northern Holarctic has been across some 20,000 years right up to now, and our frightening path forward. While the hardened Russian way of pursuing knowledge differs markedly from that in America, scientific discourse plays out with the similar goal to understand nature. Here, the common objective is to combat climate challenge. PLEISTOCENE PARK should be viewed by all. I will use it in my classrooms—both at the university and broader universe."
Joel Berger, University Chair in Wildlife Conservation, Colorado State University, Senior Scientist, Wildlife Conservation Society

"PLEISTOCENE PARK is a complete and honest portrayal of the messy intersection between Arctic science and climate change solutions. The film is essential watching for anyone who wants to understand what the world's most famous ecosystem manipulation is and isn't. It contrasts the immense ambition of transforming the permafrost zone with the uncompromising stubbornness of one family and their bison."
Benjamin Abbott, Assistant Professor of Ecosystem Ecology, Brigham Young University

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