EXCLUSIVE: French wildlife director Guillaume Maidatchevsky has revealed fresh details about his upcoming live-action Arctic fox adventure Kina & Yuk, on which Newen Connect is launching sales at the EFM.
Driven by the impact of climate change and the melting of the Polar ice packs, the drama follows an arctic fox couple who are separated when the male gets trapped on a piece of breakaway ice, leaving his heavily pregnant mate to survive on her own, as hunger and predators close in.
The drama brings the protagonists into contact with a host of other Arctic animals including lemmings, polar bears, red foxes, arctic wolves and minks.
Like Maidatchevsky’s breakthrough first feature Alio’s Journey (aka A Reindeer’s Journey), the new film will be created out of live-action footage of real animals in their natural habitats.
Maidatchevsky and his compact crew have been shooting in the Yukon in Northwestern Canada, against its backdrop of mountains, rivers, forests, tundra and Arctic ice shelves. The production is expected to be delivered by the fourth quarter of 2023.
Inspiration for the film came from a 2018 news report about three crab fishermen who rescued a stranded Arctic fox from a breakaway iceberg off the coast of Labrador.
“I was struck by the photo of the little, soaked, scrawny animal adrift on that accidental raft. The idea of a climate migrant immediately came to mind,” explains Maidatchevsky. “I decided to go back in time and work out how he got there. Kina & Yuk is based on the true story of that little fox cut off from the world.”
“I imagined what would’ve happened to him if he hadn’t been saved by two fishermen. I wanted to tell the tale of that animal surrounded by a changing world, forced to adapt to his new surroundings or perish.”
Maidatchevsky says the film is not a sequel to Alio’s Journey, about a newly-born reindeer’s odyssey across Lapland, but acknowledges that there is a connection between the two features.
“It’s a nature tale set in the magnificent landscapes of the Far North,” he said. “While Ailo helped to promote awareness of how fragile nature is, my aim is now to encourage reflection on the issue.
“The environmental theme will be even more immediate and meaningful. Each one of the characters will be affected. Even more than with Ailo, I wanted to set this new story in the heart of a changing, fragile, endangered world.”
The production reunites Maidatchevsky with high-end documentary company Valdés, a joint venture between producer Laurent Flahault and Borsalino Productions co-founders Laurent Baudens and Gaël Nouaille.
Aside from Alio’s Journey, Valdés’s previous credits include Peter Webber’s Inna de Yard: The Soul of Jamaica and the Netflix documentary We Are One by Stéphane de Freitas.
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