I found it a little suspicious that this film garnered a very low IMDB score before it was given wide release in the cinemas. I watched Burning yesterday at the Sydney Film Festival where it was presented by Greg Mullins former Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW and climate activist. Orner's film follows three main themes, the science, history of fire in Australia, and the School children's Climate Strike, which unfold during Black Summer in 2019-2020 on the east coast of Australia. Burning presents salient interviews with scientist Tim Flannery who was the first and only head of the Climate Council before it was disbanded by conservative governments. The second theme follows the long career of Mullins who recalls how fires have changed leading up to the 2019 fires which were catastrophic. Burning depicts footage from inside the infernos in Cobargo, NSW, and Mallacoota, Victoria talking to survivors and residents. This footage is distressing, as is depiction of the destruction of billions of native and non-native animals. Burning also introduces the perspective of Aboriginal author, Bruce Pascoe, resident of Mallacoota. Young Daisy Jeffrey reflects on her experience at the forefront of the School Children's Climate Strike before and after Black Summer. Above all, the film is political: Burning does not shy away from how Australian conservative politicians minimised the effect of climate change on bushfires, and the Murdoch media created misinformation that the fires were deliberately lit and not at all related to climate change. A short history of the fossil fuel industry in Australia contextualises a pervasive sense of political denial that proved dangerous. Under Orner's guidance, these themes deftly intersect. Burning leaves you with a sense of sadness and rage. However, what could have been a depressing exercise is ultimately hopeful because of the actions of people, and not politicians. The final frame compares the land area burnt in Australia, to the land area burnt by fires in California and the Amazon which made the audience gasp.
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Looks at the deadly Australian bushfires of 2019-2020, known as 'Black Summer'. An exploration of what happened as told from the perspective of victims of the fires, activists and scientists.
November 25, 2021