The Living Fire

  • ACMI CINEMA Federation Square, Flinders Street Melbourne Australia

Dir. Ostap Kostyuk | Ukraine | 2015 | 80 mins | Australian Premiere

Hutsul shepherds have inhabited the Carpathian Mountain ranges for hundreds of years. Observed with great warmth and humour, The Living Fire follows three such men: 82-year-old Ivan, who reflects nostalgically on a long life of solitude, hard work and quiet achievement. Vasyl, 39, a shepherd responsible for the subsistence of his neighbours and survival of his small community, who balances traditional practices with the realization his world is irrevocably changing.

Finally, firmly under his wing is Ivanko, 9, who is being trained in the traditional methods of sheep herding. Depicting at once the seasonal and lifelong cycles of traditional rural existence, The Living Fire is a tour-de-force that questions what stands to be lost as our societies become ever more removed from their natural environments.

Uses painterly compositions, sublime portraiture, expertly calibrated exposure and a transcendent use of natural light to create feature-like imagery that would not look out of place in the films of Tarkovsky, Herzog or Iñárritu. Both the landscapes and interiors achieve a feeling of poetic realism, lending sequences abundant texture and a mystical, almost otherworldly quality.
— Stephen Pizello, American Cinematographer
Ostap Kostyuk’s The Living Fire is a gentle documentary that provides an intimate and respectful look at an increasingly fragile and detached rural community of herders.
— Jeremy Elphick, 4:3

Winner: Best Cinematography – Salem Film Festival 2016
Winner: Special Jury Prize - Hot Docs 2015
Winner: Best International Documentary Feature – Hot Docs 2015
Winner: Best Documentary – Olympia International Film Festival 2015