Sundance 2022: Sara Dosa’s Spectacularly Poetic ‘Fire of Love’ Doc
by Alex Billington
January 21, 2022
“If you could die at any moment, what do you leave behind?” That’s the important question at the core of this documentary – because that’s what the filmmakers were wondering when they were putting it together. Fire of Love is an extraordinary new documentary feature premiering at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Directed by doc filmmaker Sara Dosa (of The Seer and the Unseen and The Last Season previously), the film tells the story of Katia & Maurice Krafft – two world famous French volcanologists. Unfortunately they died researching a volcano in Japan back in 1991. But the rest of their story hasn’t been told before. The filmmakers got their hands on the entire Krafft archives, tons of old video footage and more, and figured out how to tell one of the most compelling and beautiful and inspiring stories of love and adventure ever made.
Fire of Love introduces us to Katia and Maurice Krafft, two lovers who were together for 21 years. They were inseparable. It’s an obvious comparison but it’s accurate – Dosa follows in the footsteps of Werner Herzog’s seminal Grizzly Man doc, exploring the same kind of themes and questions as that regarding the people who become obsessed with nature. Even if it kills them, that’s the life they choose to live and they’d have it no other way. This film is as poetic as it is spectacular, another iconic story of love – love between these two but also a love for this planet, for Mother Nature. It can be so powerful and beautiful all at once. And I think these two sensed that power, they fed on it. They devoted their entire lives to volcanoes and put themselves at risk because they had to, they were drawn to them, because the rest of the world was a disappointment. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of, because it’s a life well lived. They even admit it a few times in the film.
So much of this doc involves the filmmakers trying to make sense of and figure out who they are only from whatever archival footage they can find. This is exceptional feat to begin with, sorting through all of it and figuring out how to make one 90 minute film out of it. As these two individuals are no longer alive and can’t tell their story, they have to rely on all this footage to speak for them. And this footage says more than any words could ever say. No interviews or conversations can truly capture what we see on camera, not only the magnificence of the volcanos, but the way these two interact and connect while also playing around with the volcanoes. Dangerous as it certainly is, this is their legacy, forever and always. This is their life story, this footage is what remains of them and it is now talking directly to us, breaking the barriers of time to tell us who they are and what they really wanted to share with humanity during the time the existed on this planet.
I’m always very deeply moved by these stories. I believe that you have to go out and LIVE a life of your own, take risks and be bold and stay honest; don’t care what anyone else thinks, just explore the world in your own way. Live your life for YOU, do what you want. This is inspiring. I very much appreciate the narration by Miranda July in here, because she ever so gracefully talks about exactly this. She speaks lyrically about the extraordinary power of volcanoes but also of the extraordinary power of love. Making an outstanding film is not just about the story being told, it’s about how to tell that story, and Dosa has done the very best telling the story of Katia & Maurice. In addition to all the jaw-dropping, unbelievable footage of volcanoes, this is a film that reminds us a life spent with the people you love is the best life no matter how long it lasts.