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An exclusive look into the lives of the rich and dynamic population of brown bears from Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. One four year old bear heads away from his mother on the first of many solitary journeys through snowy mountaintops and great rivers, taking advantage of the brief spring season and hunt salmon if he is to survive the long, punishing winter. The insight shows these magnificent creatures are inextricably linked to the surrounding ecosystem in which they live.

Review by Louise Keller:
A big brown bear lies on jagged rocks in a stream in the wilds of Kamchatka, waiting patiently for the salmon. He scratches his chin clearly irritable, hungry after hibernating through the long winter; his survival depends on the trophy he is waiting to snare. We feel as though we can almost touch him, the dense texture of his fur and sense the urgency of his pending feast. It's an unforgettable image and only one of many in this extraordinary documentary that takes us into the lives of the majestic brown bears of Kamchatka, giving us an insight into how they survive the brutal conditions in which they live. The miracle of instinct and their connection to the animal world and the eco-system is critical.

As the film begins, we are taken into the environment in which the bears live. Water trickles over rocks, steam emanates and billows into the air like a mystical mist. The expanse of pristine white snow covering the Alps extends as far as the eye can see. This is Kamchatka, perched at the remote edge of the earth to the east of Siberia, where nature rules. In this harsh environment 30 of the 300 volcanoes are still active, belching out their streams of fire at will. We first meet the bears in spring, at the end of the long eight-month winter when their hibernation ends.

We follow the journey of a four-year-old brown bear, exploring the world on his own for the first time, after being nurtured by his mother. His instinct is sharp as he searches for the trail to the Valley of the Geysers that lead him to the stream through which the salmon will pass. The salmon too have a keen instinct - the odour of a single drop of fresh water in the ocean leads them to their birthplace, where they will lay their eggs. Astounding underwater photography takes us right into the midst of the salmon during their journey. Sea lions are also after the salmon; the bear hopes to stuff himself with up to 50 salmon a day in order to prepare himself for the winter months.

Hundreds of bears descend on Lake Kurile, the mecca central feeding place, where millions of salmon cross. There is tension and seagulls squawk their vocal accompaniment to the growls of the bears. Meanwhile the salmon continue their journey in their never-ending cycle of life.

I watched in amazement, enthralled by the stunning cinematography and the constant feeling of 'how on earth did they capture that'? Superb production values and breathtaking close-up photography allow us to feel as though we are there with the magnificent bears of Kamchatka, privileged to have a front seat row to witness them in their natural environment.

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(France, 2014)

NARRATION: David Gasman (English version) Marion Cotillard (French version)

PRODUCER: Thierry Commissionat, Francois de Carsalade du Pont, Benoit Tschieret, Guillaume Vincent

DIRECTOR: Guillaume Vincent

SCRIPT: Michel Fessler, Yves Paccalet

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Lionel Jan Kerguistel

EDITOR: Vincent Schmitt

MUSIC: Fabien Cali (Songs by Cecile Corbel)


RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 25, 2014

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