Emilija Škarnulytė, Lithuania, Italy 2022
Aphotic Zone dives 4 km deep into the Gulf of Mexico where marine scientists from Philadelphia’s Temple University are endeavoring to find a super coral species that can thrive under the warming and acidification of the oceans caused by humans. The horrors of colonialism and the global ecological destruction caused by industrial pollution weave together into a subtle meditation on surviving the ravages of human greed.
Lithuanian filmmaker Emilija Škarnulytė’s documentary Burial – – deals with nuclear waste in juxtaposition with ancient underground and underwater sites. It results in an immersive, often psychedelic experience reminiscent of dystopian sci-fi films with a tinge of horror, interspersed with cold, factual data.
Starting off with narrative titles describing the creation of uranium some 6.6 billion years ago, over a microscopic-level zoom into what we can only assume is a piece of the metal, the director then takes us underwater, with the camera gliding through what we are led to believe are the remains of a secret 1950s uranium mine in Poland, operated by the Soviet Union.
Vladan Petkovic, Cineuropa
If you’ve seen Twin Peaks: The Return, you’ll remember the infamous “Part 8” where David Lynch goes on a psychedelic detour into the 1940s and the first testing of the Atomic bomb on American soil. It’s impossible not to think of “Part 8” when watching Burial, Emilija Škarnulytė’s avant-garde documentary about the decommissioning of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant in Eastern Lithuania, the sister plant of Chernobyl. Like Lynch’s standout episode, Burial is a nuclear nightmare and a visual spectacle. It depicts its decommissioned plant as an altar to the underworld, a claustrophobic, inhuman space of incomprehensible gadgetry and unimaginable power lurking just out of view.
Aren Bergstrom, 3 Brothers Film