Sundance 2022: Fire of Love, Riotsville, USA, La Guerra Civil | Parties and Awards


Katia and Maurice captured their work, and themselves, in photographs and footage that provide this documentary with its treasure trove of visuals. Hypnotic images of bubbling, bursting magma, earth tearing apart. But they were stars in front of the camera, too – embedded in the footage, a dry visual comedy that reminds you of everything Wes Anderson took from the eye and mind of a French documentarian. Not to mention the intrigue, danger, and adventure that surrounds them. by Sara Doserfire of love” celebrates them not just as volcanologists or devoted lovers, but as extraordinary visual storytellers.

“Fire of Love” tells the story of their adventures, of finding volcanoes and documenting them. This homage is a mostly peaceful meditative experience, with death just below the surface – early in the film he talks about how they would pass on one of their expeditions, but leaves that alone until later. Doser treats the story with immense care, and its multi-image collages, montages, and many outbursts of natural humor are complemented by a score by Air’s Nicolas Godin that adds to its heartfelt whimsy. Forming a kind of love letter to a couple we know from the past, the narration read by Miranda July makes you appreciate each melancholic stanza (“Alone they can only dream of volcanoes; together they can reach them.”) a documentary can give you ways to appreciate volcanoes, as well as a healthy relationship.

In a way you can imagine Katia and Maurice would be proud of, the documentary conveys information about volcanoes – the safest reds, the most dangerous grays; the difference between magma and lava, but through its observational approach. It has to be one of the most heartwarming films about scientists ever made, especially since it still honors the burning nature of their shared passion.

Riotville, United States‘, a documentary screening in the festival’s NEXT experimental category, is made up entirely of archival footage recorded by the U.S. military and for news broadcasts from the late 1960s. Its footage comes back to us, as Sierra Pettengill (credited as director and archival researcher) gives us a carefully curated tour through the American police creed of “law and order.” This “law and order” is represented by an austere microcosm – a fake main street created by the military, to practice riot control and fan the fires of police power.


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