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Being Caribou

Hoping to raise awareness of the threat to the survival of the Porcupine Caribou Herd presented by the proposed exploitation of the oil and gas reserves in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the husband-and-wife-team of filmmaker Leanne Allison and wildlife biologist Karsten Heuer, follow the herd of 120,000 caribou on foot, across 1,500 kilometers of rugged Arctic tundra.

They let the caribou guide them through a wild and remote landscape, from Old Crow, Yukon, to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- the herd's calving grounds -- and back. During the five-month journey, they ski and hike across mountains, swim icy rivers, brave Arctic weather and endure hordes of mosquitoes. They survive an encounter with a hungry grizzly bear that forces them to reconcile what it means to be a part of true wilderness. Dramatic footage and video diaries provide an intimate perspective of an epic expedition.

This film presents undeniable evidence that gives the lie to then Sen. Frank Murkowski's (R-Alaska) disgenuous description of the Refuge as 'flat, unattractive, not pristine' as he held up a piece of blank white foam board. Watching the caribou migrate suggests a more appropriate analogy. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is America's Serengeti.

'This is a heartfelt and inspiring northern adventure which succeeds at revealing the powerful beauty and sacredness of the caribou and their habitat.'

'A stunning documentary about precisely what drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would destroy, and, hopefully, it will close the debate forever.' MaryAnn Johanson,

'Recommended for public and school libraries.' CM Magazine, University of Manitoba

'Captivating from start to finish...breathtaking views of both scenery and wildlife...Truly a respectful glimpse into wildness largely unseen by human eyes. Anyone who has heard of or read about the issues surrounding the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge should view this film.' Omaha Independent Media Center

'This is a film of beauty and courage.' Heron Dance

'A riveting look at the epic migration of tens of thousands of caribou, across equally epic, ruggedly beautiful terrain.' Portland Tribune

'This multi-award winning, poignant documentary will leave few people untouched.' School Library Journal

'Being Caribou is about birth, death and survival... It is a 'must see' for all those who are in favor of destroying a pristine natural environment along with all life forms in it, to gain a few barrels of oil. Highly recommended for high school, college and public library collections.' Geetha Yapa, Educational Media Reviews Online

'Beautiful, thought-provoking...Being Caribou is highly recommended.' Video Librarian, Editor's Choice


Main credits

Allison, Leanne (film director)
Allison, Leanne (screenwriter)
Allison, Leanne (cinematographer)
Wilson, Diana (film director)
Wilson, Diana (screenwriter)
Friesen, Tracey (film producer)

Other credits

Editor, Janice Brown; cinematographer, Leanne Allison; composer, Dennis Burke.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Animal Behavior/Communication
Animal Rights
Arctic Studies
Canadian Studies
Earth Science
Environmental Ethics
Life Science
Oceans and Coasts
Science, Technology, Society


porcupine caribou herd, Yukon, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, ANWR, Leanne Allison, Karsten Heuer, Arctic tundra, mosquitoes, grizzly bear, Frank Murkowsk, Serengeti; "Being Caribou"; Bullfrog Films