The New York WILD Film Festival and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) are hosting a screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary “HAULOUT,” which chronicles the dramatic effects of climate change from the most rapidly transforming ecosystem on the planet – the Russian Arctic.

The sold-out event on March 3rd features a Q&A with co-director and cinematographer Maxim Arbugaev, marine biologist Maxim Chakilev who stars in the film, and WCS researchers Martin Robards, Director of WCS’s Arctic Beringia Program and Jonathan Slaght, WCS Regional Director of Temperate Asia.

The film is being screened during the ninth edition of the New York WILD Film Festival held from March 2-5. Hosted at the world-famous Explorers Club, this year’s festival features 35 films chosen from nearly 300 submissions. WCS is proud to be a founding sponsor of the New York WILD Film Festival, presenting the very best in wildlife, adventure, exploration, and conservation filmmaking each year. 

HAULOUT is the very first short film to be awarded Best of Festival at New York WILD, has been nominated for Best Documentary Short Film at the Oscars, was featured in The New Yorkerand is incredibly relevant to WCS’s critical conservation work in Arctic Beringia. The film underscores how wildlife does not recognize human borders or human wars, and the importance of maintaining engagement to conserve threatened species.

The film was written, directed and produced by brother and sister duo Maxim Arbugaev, Evgenia Arbugaeva, young indigenous Yakutian brother and sister storytellers who were raised in the Arctic port of Tiski. HAULOUT is among five films competing for Best Documentary Short at this year’s Academy Awards. 

While not a WCS -funded film, HAULOUT depicts work that WCS supports and has been engaged with over the past decade and demonstrates the importance of Beringia as a wildlife stronghold.

Said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President for Public Affairs, and host of the evening’s program/session “Recognizing HAULOUT’s power to transcend politics and blend science and art to highlight a global issue that impacts us all, WCS and other partners worked to bring filmmaker Maxim Arbugaev and marine biologist Maxim Chakilev to the United States to tell the story of the film, the walrus, and the changing Arctic to audiences first hand.”

Over the past decade, WCS has supported Russian partners in the Beringia region including Chakilev to monitor Cape Serdtse Kamen – the site featured in HAULOUT. Data from these WCS-supported efforts is vital to understanding how we can help conserve walruses - for example by reducing disturbance such as close approaches by helicopters, airplanes, people, and even village dogs that can lead to walrus stampedes and high mortality in the chaos.

Since 2007, the retreat of sea ice into the deep waters of the Arctic basin during summer and fall have forced larger numbers of walruses to land than before. WCS convened a trans-boundary workshop between Russians and Americans in 2012 to establish shared protocols for monitoring the size and repercussions of these large aggregations of walruses that are "shared" between the United States and Russia.

HAULOUT is at once expansive and claustrophobic – an intimate depiction of the tangible impacts of climate change. The film shows that walrus are running out of space: females and their calves traditionally summer on the sea ice, separate from the coastal haulouts where the huge males congregate. Today the haulout at Serdtse Kamen in Chukotka, Russia, once dominated by males, is populated by females and their calves with nowhere else to go. These smaller animals can be crushed to death among the thousands of grunting, shifting, and sparring males.

Also showing at the March 3rd screening is Golden Monkeys: Braving the Impossible (New York WILD’s Best Wildlife Film) followed by HAULOUT (New York WILD’s Best in Festival)


Media are welcome to attend other events happening at the New York WILD film festival.  Full schedule here: