Mike Birkhead Associates - People


Filmed and Presented by Gordon Buchanan


Awards at the International Wildlife Film Festival, Missoula:

Best of Festival for 'Best Sound Design,' 2009
Best of Festival for 'Best use of Music,' 2009
Merit Award for editing, 2009

Roscar Winner 2009 at Durban Wild Talk Africa Film Festival

Cine Gold Eagle Award.

Winner Bronze Award at New York Film Festival.

Winner Premio Progetto Natura at Festival Stambecco d'Oro 2009

Finalist at Jackson Hole Film Festival 2009.

Mike Birkhead

A spectacular journey in snowbound Eastern Russia in search of Amba the Russian Tiger. Russia colonized its wild east at the same time America colonized its wild west. But there was no gold rush here - the people came for furs. It’s hard to believe this part of Asia holds the largest contiguous population of tigers in the world - at least that's what they say.

Gordon's journey starts in the most unlikely setting Vladivostok, a naval outpost, a city that was closed to foreigners until the collapse of the Soviet Union. It's so cold the sea has frozen over. Gordon's journey will only get colder. He heads north for Ussuriland, a region all but unknown to the West until just 100 years ago. Gordon will be traveling in the footsteps of the first explorers, living in basic huts, trekking through forests and learning to survive in this harsh environment. Gordon will be guided by Anatoly Petrov. First they will explore the forest close to Anatoly's home before they set off on a long journey to 3 separate forest locations - even meeting one man who just last year saw five tigers in a single day.


On Gordon's travels he meets Yuri Yakhontov, who was part of a team that dealt with tigers that attacked men and Alexander Batalov a biologist who studies tigers and bears.

As Gordon gets to know the people and the forests he starts to appreciate what the locals know as Amba - the spirit of the forest. But it gives him little comfort in the freezing cold. He gets no closer to seeing the tiger. He has to collect water from frozen ponds, boil thimbles of water for tea and learn to drink vodka and eat boiled blood for sustenance. Gordon even has to experience the a wild Russian Sauna that involves beatings with Birch branches and a chilling roll in the snow. All part of the process, so his guides tell him, of understanding Amba and the forest. But so far it has all eluded Gordon. He is not happy.

Its time to meet the indigenous people of this area the Udege. They have shared these forests with Amba for hundreds of years. Can they help Gordon? Valentina is village elder of Gvasugyi - it is just one of three Udege settlements left in Ussuriland. She tells Gordon the future looks bleak for her people and for Amba. If they lose the tiger chaos will be unleashed on the world.

The final destination is another 10 hours drive away through the snow to the Bikin river valley. It is here he has the best chance of seeing the tiger and he is going to meet Sergey Boiko - the man who saw five tigers in a day and has lost 40 dogs to the big cats.

Gordon's journey ends with true enlightenment, a true and deep understanding of spirit Amba. He finally gets to see a tiger in the snow.

This beautiful and remarkable film gives a unique falvour of one of the most precious animals and forests left on earth.

Amba - The Russian Tiger

A Mike Birkhead Associates Film

Filmed and Presented by Gordon Buchanan
Directed by Saritha Wilkinson - Edited by Matt Meech


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