Pleistocene Park 

Seeking no one’s help and asking nobody’s permission, Russian geophysicist Sergey Zimov and his son Nikita are gathering any large wooly 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 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. 

While Zimov’s brilliance and charisma have won him friends and supporters, his oversized ego, lack of diplomacy, and cranky iconoclasm make him a challenge to work with.  Nikita, Sergey’s son, is the last man standing to deal with his father’s idiosyncrasies and carry forward his vision. 

Nature doesn’t cooperate, equipment breaks, bureaucrats meddle, animals run away, there is never enough money, and constant media coverage nets them unsolicited advice from around the globe, but no concrete support. After years of backbreaking labor and risking their lives on shoestring expeditions to bring animals to Pleistocene Park, it remains an extremely funky operation, dominated by swarming mosquitoes and mud pits rather than vast thundering herds.  

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?

“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 AFO Festival

“Pleistocene Park is a fascinating look at what eccentricity and determination can achieve when focused in the right direction.”

– Rob Aldam, Backseat Mafia, CPH:DOX Review

“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 Flavours, HotDocs Review

“An entertaining look at this unique project, that offers a thought-provoking glimpse into an unconventional, possible solution to climate change.”

– ★★★☆ – John Corrado, The Joy of Movies, HotDocs Review


  • Year: 2022
  • Duration: 101 & 57
  • Production: Mammoth Steppe Films
  • Director: Luke Griswold Tergis
  • Available Versions: ENG
  • Country of production: United States


  • - CPH:Dox 2022 DENMARK - HotDocs 2022 CANADA - ALTEFF All Living Things Environmental Film Festival 2023 INDIA (Best of the Festival Award ) - Thessaloniki Documentary Festival 2022 GREECE - Vera Film Festival 2022 (Audience Award) FINLAND - Krakow Film Festival 2022 POLAND - Millenium Festival 2022 BELGIUM - DOK.Fest München 2022 GERMANY - Cinemambiente 2022 (Special Mention) ITALY - Olomouc International Festival of Science Documentary Films 2022 (Honorable Mention from the International Competition Jury at Academia Film Olomouc) CZECH REP. - Naturvision Film Festival 2022 GERMANY - Seoul Eco Film Festival 2022 SOUTH KOREA - Matsalu Nature Film Festival 2022 ESTONIA - Prague Science Film Festival 2022 CZECH REP. - Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam 2022 NETHERLANDS - Another Way Film Festival 2022 SPAIN (Best Film Award) - Beholders Documentary Dialogues International Documentary Film Festival 2022 NETHERLANDS - Adana Golden Boll Film Festival 2022 TURKEY - Buster Film Festival for Children 2022 DENMARK - Festival International du Film d'Environnement "Ensemble" FreDD FRANCE (Special Mention) - Innsbruck Nature Film Festival 2022 AUSTRIA (Soil Award) - Port Townsend Film Festival 2022 UNITED STATES - Green Film Festival of San Francisco 2022 UNITED STATES (Audience Award for Best Feature) - Anchorage International Film Festival 2022 UNITED STATES (Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature) - Doctober 2022 UNITED STATES - New Orleans Film Festival 2022 UNITED STATES - Hawaii International Film Festival 2022 UNITED STATES - Banff Mountain Film Festival 2022 CANADA - Yellowknife International Film Festival 2022 CANADA - Braunschweig Internaitonal Film Festival 2022 GERMANY - International Film Festival Würzburg 2023 GERMANY - Salt Spring Film Festival 2023, CANADA - Annual Durango Independent Film Festival 2023 UNITED STATES - Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival 2023 UNITED STATES - Colorado Environmental Film Festival 2023 UNITED STATES - In-Science International Science Film festival 2023 NETHERLANDS - FIFEC 2023 BELGIUM - Princeton Public University's Environmental Film Festival 2023 USA - Available Light Film Festival 2023 CANADA - Close-Up Reykjavik 2024 ICELAND.

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