The Lion and the Firebird

Daniel Byers, Director
Fernando González Ortiz, Producer 

Sloan Grant(s) Received: 2021, Production Award, Columbia University 

Project Type: Short Film 

Genre: Adventure 

Length: 22 minutes 

Field of Science: Paleoanthropology 

Stage: Post-Production 


When her matriarchal tribe is overthrown by a violent usurper, RISING FIRE flees rather than be forced into marriage. As a warband pursues her and her young daughter, she encounters one of the last Neanderthals, TUL. A bogeyman to her people, she must decide if he can be an ally—or another threat. But there is more to Tul than the monstrous legend—he is kind to her daughter, and Rising Fire learns that his people were killed by her own tribe. They begin to share language and ideas, and find a connection. But the Lion Men arrive in force, and Tul tells her to return to them, abandoning her. In a final confrontation, Rising Fire is captured and is about to be killed—but Tul returns. They fight, routing their enemy, and forging a partnership that will become the future of humanity.