Genesis 2.0

Institute History

  • 2018 Sundance Film Festival


World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography

Two sets of sojourners passionately pursue the remains of the storied, long-extinct woolly mammoth: a small population of scavengers in the Siberian Islands who unearth mammoth tusks (prized in the Chinese art market) from the harsh landscape, and a loosely-knit international community of scientists who now seek to revive the mammoth through cutting-edge synthetic-biology technologies.

While the two groups in Christian Frei and Maxim Arbugaev's Genesis 2.0 are united in their reverence for the mammoth, a subtle disquiet undergirds all their activities: both the disturbance of mammoth remains (a longstanding cultural taboo), and the engineering of life forms through cloning, genome sequencing, and the like, making humans potentially the co-authors of natural life and opening a Pandora's box of ethical considerations. The hulking figure of the mammoth is the thematic phantom haunting Frei's gripping documentary—and its dramatic fulcrum. The unprecedented, on-camera excavation of a largely intact mammoth is a rare privilege for viewers, and it’s also an alarming harbinger of a bold future visited by fearsome and long-untouched secrets of the past.

— S.K.

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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