Directors Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev (a sister-and-brother filmmaking team) are native filmmakers who document a remarkable event of global significance in their Arctic homeland in the Academy Award nominated documentary short film HAULOUT. This urgent film follows a marine biologist, Maxim Chakilev, living in the Siberian Arctic walrus haulout. The gathering of thousands of these marine mammals is a consequence of climate change; warming seas have forced the walruses to congregate on land, where stampedes and trampling can result in fatalities. The audience is literally placed in the middle of the climate crisis. The claustrophobic and crumbling hut feels unsafe and fragile, just like the animals surrounding it and the human being inside. Co-director Evgenia Arbugaeva (Maxim Arbugaev) join us for a conversation on how they met and then decided to follow marine biologist Maxim Chakilev, the challenges of living at the site where Maxim was collecting data on the walruses and the moment Evgenia and her brother Maxim found out that they were the first Yakutian filmmakers to be nominated for an Academy Award.
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About the subject – Maxim Chakilev was born in 1987 in the small village of Kuva in Perm region in Russia. He studied microbiology in the university. After graduation he moved to Anadyr, the capital of Chukotka to work in the Marine Mammal Laboratory at the Pacific Branch of the Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography. Since then every autumn for the past decade Maxim studied Pacific walruses on the Cape Serdtse-Kamen (Cape Heart-Stone) in Chukchi Sea. His solitary field work takes place in August and throughout November when he observes the haulout of almost the entire population of Pacific walruses.
About the filmmaker – Evgenia Arbugaeva is a world-renowned photographer who was born in the small town of Tiksi, located on the shore of the Laptev Sea and rose to prominence as her work has appeared in The New Yorker, National Geographic, and perhaps most famously, on the cover of TIME Magazine. She photographed Greta Thunberg for TIME‘s 2019 Person of the Year cover. She has been a National Geographic Society fellow.
About the filmmaker – Maxim Arbugaev is a documentary filmmaker and cinematographer. He received the Special Award for Cinematography – World Cinema Documentary at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival for his work on the documentary Genesis 2.0, which he co-directed with Christian Frei.
About the Haulout – A haulout is a place of refuge where walruses gather, reproduce, and socialize. It includes female and male animals as well as calves. Normally, walruses spend most of their time at sea hauled out on ice floes as they forage for food on the ocean floor, but climate change and sea ice decline forces them to haul out on land instead. Throughout the Arctic, sea ice is forming later in the season and disappearing earlier, limiting the amount of space available for walruses to congregate. Floating summer sea ice is also receding further north to where the water is too deep for the animals to dive and feed. This forces them to seek refuge ashore. Once on land, the walruses must travel much longer distances — up to 250 miles round trip—to reach their food supply, This leads to exhaustion and vulnerability to injuries and deaths in the crowded haulouts where stampedes and trampling happen several times a day. Pacific walruses reached record-low numbers in the early 1960s due to commercial hunting but rebounded by the 1980s following significant conservation efforts. Currently, the Pacific walrus population is once again in decline — with about 129,000 animals left.
100% on RottenTomatoes
“Please read nothing about the Oscar-nominated documentary short Haulout and just watch for the best shot of someone opening a door since The Wizard of Oz.” – Katey Rich, Vanity Fair
“Contains one of the most jaw-dropping reveals you’re likely to see.” – Michael J. Casey, Boulder Weekly
“Haulout has one of the most cinematic moments I’ve ever seen.” – The Columbian
“Incredible.” “Amazing.” “Visually stunning.” “Powerful.” – Anne Thompson, IndieWire’s Screen Talk Podcast
“It’s great cinema.” “It frickin’ rocks.” “Haulout is so great.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire’s Screen Talk Podcast
“Stunning.” “Gorgeous cinematography.” “With very few words, the film communicates a monumentally poignant picture of the effects of climate change.” – Jude Dry, IndieWire
“Has a transition that blew my mind.” – Marcus Jones, IndieWire’s Screen Talk Podcast
“Unforgettable.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
“Astonishing.” “Even Planet Earth would be jealous of this footage. Someone send David Attenborough a screener.” – Redmond Bacon, Director’s Notes
“Entrancing.” “Captured so beautifully.” – Alex Billington, First Showing
“Astonishing.” – Ben Nicholson, The Film Verdict
“Remarkable.” “Extraordinary in imagery and messaging, Haulout is without question one of 2022’s best documentary shorts.” – Richard Propes, The Independent Critic
“An incredible sight.” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film
“★★★★” – Ken Rudolph, Letterboxd