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Synopsis: It’s best to experience what you’re fighting for. When two adventurers embark on a dangerous four-month expedition documenting the world’s longest land mammal migration through the Arctic Refuge of Alaska and Canada, they soon discover an incredible ecosystem protected by the Gwich’in Nation for more than 25,000 years, yet held on the precipice of collapse by resource development corporations.

Genre

Environmental

Language

English

Run Time

25 minutes

Starring

Kristen Gates
Jeremey La Zelle

Directed by

Kristin Gates
Jeremy Là Zelle

Director's Statement

Written by Kristin Gates & Jeremy Là Zelle The foundation of the story is told through the voice of the film’s narrator Kristin Gates, along with the leaders of the Gwich’in Nation. Their unsupported quest through the harsh yet beautiful winter environment of the Arctic Refuge in search of the Porcupine Caribou Migration provides the setting and location of much of the film’s natural challenges including severe storms and challenging encounters with bears and wolves. The overarching story focuses on the current issues (environmental and human rights) of the Gwich’in Nation. Leaders of the Gwich’in Nation (both young and old) speak directly to the audience through in-scene moments and formal interviews as they analyze and discuss the value of their culture and the continued protection of their land from resource development corporations. The formal interviews are spoken in both English and the Gwich’in Language, which ultimately helps the Gwich’in continue the preservation of their language for future generations. We showcase the spectacular one-of-a-kind intact ecosystem of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Yukon Territories. The footage is 100% original, breathtaking, and completely filmed entirely by Kristin and Jeremy in some of the world’s most challenging conditions. Audiences will have an opportunity to see a landscape never before seen on the big screen. Most importantly, audiences will be directly educated from the leaders of the Gwich’in Nation and discover what it means to truly be an advocate for the preservation of natural ecosystems. Further, audiences will see how environmental issues are directly related to human rights abuses. A Call-To-Action will be provided to audiences so they may join the Gwich’in Nation in their fight to protect their culture and the Arctic Refuge for future generations. “What kind of life are we really living if everything is for sale and nothing is sacred? My people’s culture and those elders, they’re not for sale. My culture is not for sale. If somebody else wants to put a price tag on it, that’s their misgiving, and it’s their inability to see what true value is. Because I think this is much more than just five percent of the coast. This is one hundred percent of my people.” – Dana Tizya-Tramm, Chief of Old Crow, Yukon Territories, Canada

Director's Bio

KRISTIN GATES: I moved to Alaska’s Arctic when I was 23 years old. Before arriving to the last frontier, I dedicated my life to embracing America’s wildest and most remote areas. I became the youngest woman to complete the Triple Crown of thru-hiking [Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Appalachian Trail] and I had experienced most of the wilderness areas in our country. I thought I knew what wilderness was, but as I stood at the edge of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for the first time, I understood this place is something completely different and unique. This is real wilderness. When I was 25, I became the first woman to trek solo across the Brooks Range and during that trip, I was lucky enough to walk across the trail-less Refuge. The experience completely changed my life. I became more focused on dedicating my energy to showcasing America’s wildest areas and how best to continually protect them. While alone in the Refuge, I encountered the Porcupine Caribou Herd Migration pouring through valleys as they traveled north to the calving grounds followed by grizzly bears and wolves. I followed the paths of these incredible animals and the experiences were the holiest and most inspiring I’d ever seen. This is one of the last ecologically intact places on the planet. It must be protected.

JEREMY LÀ ZELLE: Jeremy Là Zelle travels around the world filming and documenting exciting projects for TV Networks, Nations, NGOs, Charities, and Businesses who make a positive social impact on their communities. Jeremy has written, directed, & produced for National Geographic Channel, History Channel, Animal Planet, incredible nations such as the Kingdom of Bhutan, Kingdom of Eswatini, Ethiopia, Peru, and many more. With “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins”, Jeremy hopes to showcase and highlight the leaders of the Gwich’in Nation and the magnificent beauty of the area’s flora and fauna.

Country of Origin

United States

Production Year

2018

Aspect Ratio

16:9

Official Website

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