On 12th September 2018, The European Nature Trust transformed the Southbank’s BFI to host the UK Premiere of BEARTREK – the epic feature documentary which follows renowned bear ecologist and conservationist, Chris Morgan, on a journey to find some of the world’s most elusive and endangered bears.
Guests began to arrive at the venue at 6pm and were greeted by two striking Rolls-Royce Cullinans – their newest, all-terrain, SUV model – set against an iconic BFI backdrop.
– Rolls-Royce Cullinan © Coldhouse Collective
On entering the venue, guests were catapulted into a beautiful jungle of hanging foliage, dappled lighting and smooth music and were welcomed to the party with a glass of Francis Ford Coppola’s Blanc de Blancs or a bottle of Black Isle Brewery’s organic beer.
As the reception got going, and a range of delicious vegetarian bites were circulated, some guests made friends with our giant Easigrass bears!
– Giant panda, courtesy of Easigrass © Coldhouse Collective
By 6:15pm, the space was packed.
There was plenty of food to go around, thanks in part to the wonderful Inigo Sushi Handrolls, who supplied a delicious selection of meat-free maki – their sushi was so popular that there was a constant throng of guests surrounding their food cart!
– Inigo Sushi Handrolls © Coldhouse Collective
Pisqu, a Peruvian restaurant based in Fitzrovia, delighted guests with some fresh, healthy canapés whilst Molinari gave tastings of their finest Italian products. There was lots to see and do!
Those lucky enough to find it tucked away behind a sliding bookcase, settled into The Botanist’s Cocktail Garden. The room smelled divine – Botanist and Tonics were flowing whilst guests foraged for their garnish from a herb garden stocked with botanicals such as lemon thyme, basil, chocolate mint, rosemary and chamomile.
– The Botanist Cocktail Garden © Coldhouse Collective
Over 300 guests gathered around to hear Paul Lister, Founder and Trustee of The European Nature Trust, remind everyone of the reason we had come together that evening. The Marsican brown bear of Abruzzo, Italy, desperately needs our help. Today, only about 50 individuals remain – most of them within the protected boundaries of Abruzzo National Park. Due to the population’s historical isolation, the bears are not only endemic to Central Italy, but they are genetically unique from other alpine brown bears.
This beautiful species stands on the brink of extinction and the few bears that survive outside the park are quickly dwindling due to poaching, poisoning, land fragmentation, and traffic collisions. Funds raised from the evening will be used to protect these bears and their habitat.
– Paul Lister’s speech © Coldhouse Collective
At 8pm, the call to theatre was made. Drinks were poured into Vegware compostable cups and guests were ushered through a corridor, lined with stunning images from BEARTREK, to the BFI’s largest screening auditorium, NFT1, to take their seats.
The audience enjoyed a heartfelt introduction from Chris Morgan as they settled in for the film and tucked into the bag of Hippeas and can of CanO Water found on each seat.
– Chris Morgan introducing BEARTREK
The film was incredible, with unforgettable footage from the extremes of the bear world.
BEARTREK goes straight to the heart of the matter: six of our planet’s eight bear species are endangered, and three are at imminent risk of extinction as a consequence of poaching and intensive farming.
Guests were invited to join the campaign to protect bears and their habitats with the message, ‘By protecting the bears, we protect their forests, but we also protect and conserve everything else within those forests.’ As the credits rolled, there was an air of inspiration and determination in the auditorium – the audience agreed we must take action to help the bears, which will in turn help to safeguard our shared environment.
When the film ended, Chris Morgan and Siew Te Wong took to the stage for a Q&A hosted by our wonderful compère, Ross Westgate – the trio reminisced about 9-year journey that was the making of BEARTREK.
– Chris Morgan and Siew Te Wong © Coldhouse Collective
The evening ended with an auction to win a private trip with Chris Morgan to some of Europe’s wildest regions in search of bears and wolves. This incredible, once-in-a-lifetime prize was fought over and finally, with a plea to Chris from the auctioneer to host the trip twice, awarded to TWO lucky winners!
If you were inspired by the evening, please get in touch – there is so much we can do for the bears with your support.
The European Nature Trust will also soon be running trips to Italy – please sign up to our mailing list to be the first to know!
Also thanks to: BFI, Devonshire Club, Draycott Hotel, KIND Snacks, Sabah Tourism Board, Uproar.