Burning Documentary

TIFF Review: ‘Burning’ is an Eye-Opening Look at a Country on Fire and a Planet in Crisis

September 19, 2021Ben MK

The climate crisis has been the subject of many a documentary in recent memory, from An Inconvenient Truth to I Am Greta. But whereas those movies also spotlighted the work of such well-known climate activists as Al Gore and Greta Thunberg, director Eva Orner takes a somewhat different approach with Burning — a doc that's as much a condemnation of the Australian government's inaction on climate change as it is a look at how the problem has affected the planet's smallest continent.

Centering on the unusually intense 2019-2020 Australian bushfire season that infamously became known as the Black Summer, the film serves as a damning examination of the country's continued reliance on fossil fuels. But while some, such as tech entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes, are committed to investing in a future based on renewable energy, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the nation's ruling politicians are still vehemently resistant to the notion that climate change is even a real issue. It's a fact sadly evidenced by how Morrison and his government have cited the protection of the country's economy as the reason behind their repeated and willfull dismissal of the advice from the scientist community and those who have witnessed the devastation wreaked by the forest fires firsthand. Yet, as teenage environmental activist Daisy Jeffrey warns, if something isn't done about the situation soon, there may not be a planet — let alone an economy — left to preserve.

Utilizing a combination of news footage and interviews with subject matter experts such as scientist/author Tim Flannery and former fire commissioner Greg Mullins, the result makes for a convincing argument as to why Australia's wildfire woes shouldn't be counted as merely amother example of extreme weather, but rather a grim portent of things to come. Needless to say, the climate crisis isn't going to go away on its own. And as Burning makes overwhelmingly clear, it's up to all of us to do our part before we're past the point of no return.

Burning screens under the TIFF Docs programme at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 26 min.

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