In 2021, an extreme heatwave gave rise to huge wildfires in the vast subarctic forests of Sakha, a northeastern republic in Siberia. The village of Shologon lies in this taiga landscape, shrouded in orange smoke and black ash. The forest is burning and the flames are approaching fast.
The original inhabitants of the area aren't expecting any help from the government, though, because Shologon is at the edge of a “control zone.” This is the official Russian term for any remote or sparsely populated area where the authorities are not required to combat wildfires if the cost of extinguishing them would exceed the cost of estimated damage. Left to their own fate, the villagers join forces.
This visually powerful film is interwoven with a Sakha fairy tale about the wind blowing over the sacred mountain. This traditional tale has suddenly become grimly topical, now that the wind is bringing the flames ever closer. The camera accompanies the men as they enter the fire zone, to quench the flames of what they call “the Dragon.” This inferno is potent evidence that climate is changing faster here in the polar regions than anywhere else.