Winterthur review: Fire Season (2021)

Courtesy of Winterthur

One of the biggest horrors of modern times caused by climate change – forest fire, turns into an observational documentary about human behaviour in Quinn Else’s short Fire Season.

Think of a heavy road accident and the onlookers stopping to glare or take images of car wracks, even of injured or dead people. Drivers would pull off or slow down causing the traffic jam just to catch the glimpse of someone else’s misery. It is a phenomena spread across the world, a morbid fascination with other people’s encounter with demise.

Else was in the middle of research of California wildfires for a horror film, when his focus shifted to spectators gathering in the area. One could say that he did create a horror film of sorts, the one in which humans’ indiference towards life presents itself in its unbeautified shape. In front of his lens the chroniclers of misery slowly appear, facinated by the nature in agony. Some take the time to step out of their cars and build a full filming equipment to make a video, probably for instagram or other social networks.

We treat our environment with even bigger indiference than our fellow humans, expecting that it will continue to provide us with natural resources and oxygen forever no matter how we behave. It’s been there forever, so it’s here to stay – that is what the majority of people somehow still think.

A child’s voice asks Siri about catastrophies, and her answer is sobering: “One can get used to catastrophies. In fact, one has to.” A man wishes to know what ignites wild fires, and the answer he gets is no less devastating. Equally so the pictures we got to see while listening to statistics: the air so thick with ash particles that the day loses all its natural light, scorched trees and bushes, and blazing flames eating up the forest.

In his footage shot between 2017-2020 Else shows that unlike human nature that hasn’t changed much, our enviroment has to the worse: fires have intensified and multiplied. Do we have to put the hashtag #alarming for the world to take this matter more seriously and take actions instead of staring at what is happening?

Fire Season was part of the International Competition at Kurzfilmtage Winterthur where we watched it.

Country: USA
Language: English
Year: 2021
Runtime: 7′
Written/ Directed/ Edited by: Quinn Else
Produced by: Quinn Else
Cinematography: Ben Long, Quinn Else
Sound: Thierry Diab
Colour: Celine Layous
Macro Photography: Ben Long