Sara Dosa interview: ‘Fire of Love’ director
When Sara Dosa was reviewing media appearances that had been made by Maurice Krafft and Katia Krafft for her documentary, “Fire of Love,” she found many instances of the sexism that Katia had to endure and there was one that really drove her team absolutely insane. “It was a scientific discussion on French television where the host introduces Maurice saying he’s a world renowned volcanologist and adventurer, ‘…and his wife Katia.’ You could just see Katia’s jaw tightening and I know so many women have had that experience too,” she tells Gold Derby during our recent Meet the Experts: Film Documentary panel (watch the exclusive video interview above).
Even though Katia had seen and studied more erupting volcanoes than Maurice had, Maurice would often have to correct the people who would make these introductions. “He would say it’s actually a problem in our relationship because Katia is cheating on me with volcanoes. They would learn how to diffuse the moment and be playful.”
“Fire of Love,” from National Geographic Films and currently available to stream on Disney+, explores the work of the famous volcanologist couple through tons of archival footage that they took from the 1970s until their untimely deaths in 1991 during an eruption in Japan. The discoveries that they made while intimately observing volcanoes and their eruptions helped lead to modern technologies that better help in determining when volcanic activity will become dangerous as well as helping to plan evacuations for those circumstances. In addition to making the Oscar and BAFTA shortlist for Best Documentary Feature, Dosa was also shortlisted at BAFTA in the Best Director category.
Dosa and her team combed through around 200 hours of 16mm footage that the pair shot while studying volcanoes and another 50 hours that came from them in other people’s footage or television appearances. “They’re featured on a lot of fun French variety shows of the ‘70s and they were regular guests. Whenever an eruption would happen, they were brought in to explain the science of what was happening and this is how you evacuate.” She also encountered a big obstacle in that the 16mm footage had no sound on it. “That was, at first, incredibly challenging to work with but then turned into a really inspiring opportunity for us as a team to figure out how to build in soundscapes, particularly bringing out the character of the volcano through our sonic landscape.”
With the limited amount of personal footage there was of Katia and Maurice, Dosa decided to turn to animation to help convey their playful spirit. “The reason why we went to this paper cut-out style was to situate the viewers in the beginning of their courtship, which took place in libraries.” This was during a time where they couldn’t be out in the field and they were studying like crazy to learn everything they could about the existing archives of the Earth. “That paper cut-out style felt very true to their work, their collections and also their courtship. We were so lucky to work with a brilliant paper cut-out animator, Lucy Munger, as our lead animator.”