Fire of Love – Sundance 2022

A still from Fire of Love by Sara Dosa, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Fire of Love celebrates the love story between volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft through the archival footage they left behind.

I’ve been on a natural disaster thriller kick of late so it’s only natural that I end my first day of Sundance with this unique love story. What a beauty it is! I mean, sure, it’s a sad ending with their deaths coming at the hands of a volcanic explosion at Japan’s Mount Unzen in 1991. But on the other hand, they died together doing something that they love. Part of me can’t help but wonder what they would make of films like Dante’s Peak or Volcano, both of which are celebrating 25 years in February and April, respectively. But I digress. Anyway, Fire of Love would fit right at home with National Geographic Documentary Films.

Filmmaker Sara Dosa doesn’t rely on any talking heads to tell the Krafft’s story. It’s being told solely through archival footage. Outside of the Kraffts, the only other person doing any talking about them is narrator Miranda July. Interviews were conducted by the filmmakers but mostly for research purposes. While the Krafts couldn’t prevent their own deaths, their legacy includes the pioneering research that played a hand in saving many lives. I learned a thing or two during the film–red volcanoes form as a result of tectonic plates pulling apart while gray volcanoes form because are colliding. The more you know!

Putting this film together is no easy feat for Dosa. Of course, it doesn’t happen without her making The Seer and
the Unseen. One thing leads to another and the rest is history. Dosa pulls from two-hundred-plus hours of both rare and never-before-seen footage. According to Dosa, so much of the footage had been digitized solely for the documentary. This is before photographs get added into the equation. One tricky challenge is finding footage with both Katia and Maurice in it. When it comes to archival footage, the filmmakers always find the story in the editing. This film is no exception. My G-d, what a beautiful end product. The year is still early and it may be a cliché but Fire of Love is one of the best documentaries of the year.

The 16mm cinematography is beautiful as we jump from volcano to volcano. What can only happen through CGI in disaster thrillers…this married couple was able to capture in real life! You can’t help but come off feeling impressed by their feats in action. You still have to roll your eyes upon seeing Maurice get so close that he burned the skin on his legs. Even with Katia, she’s standing the edge of a crater to measure the temperature and it’s 2192°F! No matter how much protective gear one is wearing, that is still hot as hell! They go up close and personal, which rarely happens anymore because of technological advances.

Fire of Love is a testament to the Kraffts, their love of each other, and their shared passion for volcanoes.

SCREENWRITERS: Sara Dosa, Erin Casper & Jocelyne Chaput, Shane Boris
NARRATOR: Miranda July
FEATURING: Katia Krafft, Maurice Krafft

Fire of Love holds its world premiere during the 2022 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Documentary Competition.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.