Liesbeth de Ceulaer / Belgium / 2021 / 75 min / World Premiere
Mammoth tusks unite a long-gone past and an apocalyptic present far out in the Siberian tundra, where myths and eras melt together.

The Siberian permafrost is melting. Out in landscapes that have remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years, ancient bones are now surfacing in the thawing soil, while some wild species are disappearing. Out here under the mighty sky, a few solitary people are going about their respective errands. A father must teach his young son from the big city to hunt wild reindeer, while an expedition of three is searching for mammoth tusks, with the aim of cloning the extinct giant with its own DNA in a laboratory far away. Myths and eras lie in layers in Liesbeth de Ceulaer’s immersive and atmospheric film from the tundra, which records the slow, significant changes with a seismographic sensitivity expressed in images and sound. ‘Holgut’ (the title refers to an ancient legend) is not just a film that contents itself with observing the fatal mass extinction of flora and fauna and its possible return in a cloned form. Imagination and reality, past and present, myths and dreams – all distinct forms slowly melt together in de Ceulaer’s visionary and relevant mood report from the steppes.

(The World Premiere is co-presented with Visions du Réel)