THE ANCIENT FOREST
A wildlife documentary film- and media-project
Who we are
LESFILM unites wildlife filmmakers, animators, environmental conservationists and scientists who are among the leading experts in Russian wildlife. Our goal is to create wildlife films with unique visuals and sounds that would urge viewers to preserve
the fragile environment.
Our cinematography is rooted in the energy and rhythms
of nature, we rely upon its fine-tuned system, immerse into it — following its rules that sometimes are elusive to the standard human perception. Our team uses the most current filming techniques to capture the life of flora and fauna. LESFILM also specializes in the recording of fauna and nature soundscapes.
The problem
Forests cover 31% of the global land area. Approximately one-third is primary forest. More than half of the world's forests are found in only five countries: the Russian Federation, Brazil, Canada, the United States of America and China.

Almost half of the territory of Russia is covered with forests. 25% of those are primary, which equals to 1/5 of the global natural forests area. But only 6,5% of Russian primary forests are protected by the government.

While the climate is changing, natural forests are proven to be the main contributors to its sustainability. The role of Russian old-growth forests as global providers of oxygen, biodiversity, carbon storage and humidity is clear for the scientists.

In 80 years we risk losing the old-growth forests. Not only in Russia, but in the whole world. However, this matter is rarely discussed and supported by local communities, industries and governments.
Primary/natural/stable/old-growth forests — naturally regenerated forests of native tree species, where the ecological processes are not significantly disturbed by humans for hundreds of years. These forests are made up of mosaic tiles, each at a different degree of maturity (or 'phase'), including recently regenerated trees, young trees, trees in full-scale development and senescent trees.

These forests are of irreplaceable value for their biodiversity, carbon storage and other ecosystem services, as well as cultural and heritage values. Large extents of such forests now occur only in tropical and boreal regions.
— clearcutting or intensive selective logging;
— large scale human-caused fires;
— intensive and regular application of chemicals such as pesticides, herbicide, fertilisers, etc.;
— severe industrial pollution;
— intensive recreation, etc.
About the project
A feature-length film and/or series will speak about the five most important forest types of Russia:
— the European coniferous forests,
— the European deciduous forests,
— the Caucasian mountain forests,
— the Siberian taiga and
— the Far Eastern multi-specific coniferous-deciduousforest.

Old-growth forests combine a multitude of intricate connections between living organisms, the key tree species will help us to see these links.

A large media campaign will speak about the old-growth forests and their importance for the future generations, gaining maximum impact through social media, festivals, media partners and the influencers promotion. To film the people that have deep connections with the forests they live in or next to.
Climate regulation
― Primary forests regulate the global climate by the biotic pump mechanism: forests create constant upwards moving air currents due to water vapour rising from the plants into the atmosphere. This phenomenon creates a low-pressure environment in the lower parts of the forests, attracting more moisture from distant oceans and contributing to the global air- and water flow across continents.
― Primary forests have high moisture storage capacity and can regulate the water cycle on a local level.
― Boreal forests and swamps act as a carbon sink withdrawing and retaining vast quantities CO2 from the atmosphere.

Stability
― Old-growth forests are more resilient in the face of climate change than secondary forests.
― Primary forests are more fire and insect-resistant, meaning they are more stable.
― Disturbed forests are busy with restoring themselves under a given external environment. Undisturbed forests regulate the external environment while the biomass remains stable.
― Forests carry out the vital functions of regulating and protecting the water sources, as well as protecting land from erosion.
― Primary forests have created complete ecosystems of biodiversity species including fungi and bacteria that help stabilise the climate.
― Forests affect the planet's radiation and thermal levels, preventing the soil from overheating and overcooling.

Biodiversity
― Primary forests contain 80% of the terrestrial biomass and provide habitat for over half of the known terrestrial plant and animal species.
― Trees, both living and dead, large and small, generate their own microhabitats and act as shelters, growing platforms and food resources for thousands of species.
― Primary forest ecosystems are crucial to many plants, fungi and animals that will only settle in the old- growth forests — never in the younger ones.
― A consistent forest life over time leads to the development of a community that is complex and complete both on the ground and in the trees.
Genre
Nature documentary, Popular science, Family
Filming territory
Russia
Runtime
90 min feature and/or 45—52 min series (one episode per forest ecosystem) for broadcasting
Release
2025
With the informational
support of
Animation
Animations made with with global artists to help with the conceptual clarity
Latest technologies
8K cameras, drones, photo/video traps, macro orbital NASA photos, 3D view/mapping experiences
Synopsis
Among the most important areas that remain unaltered since prehistoric times are old-growth forests. Such untouched islands of forest, rather moderate in their size, are located in a few nature reserves and national parks in Russia, where a common visitor may not be able to enter. Our film provides a rare opportunity to observe the forests that have not suffered from hundreds of years of human disturbance.
We travel through various types of forests: Southern deciduous and mountain forests, Northern dark-coniferous Eurasian forests and Far-Eastern taiga. Northern Eurasian forests play the utterly important role in the life of our planet: through oxygen production and carbon fixation, soil formation and water retention they affect climate and preserve biological diversity.
The special footage of flora and fauna of the Korean pine broad-leaved forests of the Far East will be shown: its great variety of species with different origins collected in one unique ecosystem.

As landscapes and seasons change, we encounter numerous inhabitants of the forests — mammals, birds, insects, other invertebrates, plants and fungi.
Protagonists
The stories will unfold around the most vital tree species that form the environment, the major ecosystem 'engineers' will become the protagonists of the film:
the common oak, the Siberian pine, spruce and larch, the oriental beech, the Nordman fir and the Korean pine.

Each such titan is a biotope; being alive or after falling it provides food, home and shelter to hundreds of species: fungi, plants, insects, birds and other animals. The hidden links that trees create within the ecosystem will be explored by our cameras and will become visible to the viewers.
Our mission
To change the mass perception of the role of primary forests using effective media and filmmaking expertise, to draw attention to the effects of old-growth forests on the climate and the ways people utilise them on both global and local levels, to evoke the feeling of belonging and responsibility for the future of forests.
Goals of the project
To accent the real situation with forests, to urge understanding, evaluation and action to halt the destructive processes of deforestation.
To shift an average consumers' consciousness on practising a more sustainable way of living.
To impact the way industries deal with old-growth forests.
To draw attention to science studying forests, especially young scientists.
To stimulate ecologically oriented NGOs to help old-growth forests.
To draw attention to the importance of establishing more nature reserved areas.
To create high-quality soundscapes and video recording libraries to help in future science and media projects.
What makes our storytelling unique
Scientific competency
Strong scientific competency to bring the viewer only well-grounded information.
Simple explanation
A simple explanation format of complex ecological processes.
Deep and thoughtful observations
Deep and thoughtful observations, an immersion into the atmosphere and the rhythm of a real ancient forest. Recognised poetic style of storytelling, based on the previous feature film 'Kamchatka Bears. Life Begins'.
High-fidelity soundscape
High-fidelity soundscape with extended sound recording techniques.
Artistic animation
Artistic animation as a part of the film which will unveil the details and processes of the natural world, invisible to the eye.
Locations
Primary forests and their inhabitants will be filmed on the territories of national parks, reserves, and locations from the UNESCO World Heritage List of natural territories:

— Old oak forests of Central Russia
— The virgin Komi forests
— The Western Caucasus
— The Golden Mountains of Altai
— Sikhote-Alin Ussuri forests
1. European deciduous forests
― Bryansky Les nature Reserve
― Kaluzhskiye Zaseki nature reserve

2. European coniferous forests
― Pechora-Ilych nature reserve
― Paanajarvi national park
― Pasvik nature reserve
― Pinega nature reserve
― Vodlosersky national park
― The Central Forest nature reserve
3. Caucasian mountain forests
― Caucasus nature reserve

4. The Siberian taiga
― Altai nature reserve
― Baikal nature reserve
― The Central Siberian nature reserve
5. Far Eastern multi-specific coniferous-deciduous forest
― Bikin National Park
― Sikhote-Alin nature reserve
― Ussurisky nature reserve
Current stage
— 1
Greenscreen festival pitching

Preparing for the crowdfunding

Applying for commissioning

Applying for grants

Looking for partners
— 2
Co-production is considered
— 3
In development
Production plan
Media campaign: during the whole project and after the film release
1. Media campaign on social networks and on the website of the project.
2. Creating reports, teasers, discussions with audiences
3. Recording and releasing interviews with scientists.
4. Working with media partners, festivals, and other media platforms.
Main shooting period: 2 years
1. Seasonal landscape and aerial cinematography on the chosen locations.
2. Special cinematography (macro cinematography, filming animals with hidden cameras, automatic camera recordings, time-lapses, slow motion).
3. Soundscape recordings.
Animation production: 2 years
1. Animatics
2. Animation, compositing
3. Sound design, music
Post production: 1–2 years
1. Draft edits
2. Post-production
Animation short series about forests involving European and Russian artists
As an addition project to the Ancient Forest film, we plan to arrange international residencies for the French and Russian animators in the filming locations of national parks and nature reserves to produce animation short series about forests involving European and Russian artists. It will allow to show forests in new artistic and creative ways.

Artists:
  1. Jean Bouthors (France)
  2. Matthieu Gérard Tulane (France)
  3. Ariane Theillet (France)
  4. Rémy Schaepman (France)
  5. Nina Bisyarina (Russia)
  6. Olga Ezova-Denisova (Russia)
  7. Ula Voitova (Russia)
  8. Loïc Espuche (France)
Previous project
Kamchatka Bears. Life Begins
The beautiful meditative film by LESFILM brings the audience up close to the first and the most eventful year of brown bear cubs' lives and their adventures. Kamchatka Bears. Life Begins is a film that differs from other nature documentaries. The movie has already received 24 awards at 45 festivals in 20 countries total.
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