As long as there has been mature plant life on Earth, there have been wildfires. While these often decimate areas of forest, they’ve also played an important role in the evolution of life on this planet. However, climate change is driving an increase in both frequency and intensity. Warmer weather, increased prevalence of drought and extreme weather patterns have provided the spark. Recent news headlines have been full of deadly forest fires impacting nations across the world.
In Russia, sparsely populated rural regions have been designated as ‘control zones’. If there’s an outbreak of wildfire within one of these areas, the authorities will not get involved in helping to control it. They will just be left to burn themselves out. Currently, there are over 500 million hectares of land which falls within this designation. In north-eastern Siberia, the village of Shologon lies on the edge of one of these territories. Paradise follows the local community as they fight fires.
Following local firefighters and officials while they try and get the problem under control, Paradise is a visually striking documentary which mixes folklore and legend in with the very real danger posed to life and property by these infernos. Alexander Abaturov’s film feels almost mystical in nature, while also being grounded in the harsh realities of ordinary people being left to fend for themselves. Paradise is a beautifully shot film which highlights the dangers posed by this government policy and another warning about the impact of climate change.
Paradise screens at IDFA.