Director Alexander Abaturov / 2022 / France,Switzerland

Abandoned by an indifferent government, a remote Siberian village stands united in the face of a massive forest fire that threatens its future.

In the subarctic Siberian region of Sakha lies the village of Shologon, largely populated by women, children and the elderly, and with a predominantly Indigenous population. It’s the last place on Earth that comes to mind when discussing global warming, but in 2021, extreme heat and drought combined to produce something unprecedented: a raging forest fire. As Shologon lies outside the Russian government’s ‘control zone’ – it’s deemed too isolated to spend resources on – residents could not expect a firefighting service to come and rescue them. So, to save their own lives, they faced the smoke and ash and took matters into their own hands.

Premiering at IDFA, where cinematographer Paul Guilhaume took home the award for Best Cinematography, this observational film takes the camera deep into the heart of the harrowing wildfire. Imagery is in turns beautiful and terrifying – an explosion of post-apocalyptic reds and oranges – and the sound design is immersive, creating a vital, urgent cinematic work that is both a blazing warning about climate change and an exploration of human heroism and hope in the face of destruction.

“By combining his journalistic experience with deft filmmaking skills, Abaturov builds a dynamic story bristling with tension and suspense out of an extinction chronicle.” – Cineuropa

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