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  • Alex First

From Kurils with Love

Updated: Oct 7

From Kurils with Love is a heartfelt 25-minute documentary about a chain of 56 isolated Russian volcanic islands, whose inhabitants, largely sea lions, face a perilous future.

61-year-old Vladimir Burkanov is a friendly and dedicated marine biologist who has studied mammals in the region for more than three decades.

In July 2019 he joined a group of adventurers who set sail on a 12-day expedition to some of the islands to document their magic and the threat to the Kurils.

Their purpose was fundraising, with money generated going to the collection of further data to help instigate long-term conservation plans.

Burkanov is the glue that binds the documentary together and provides perspective on the fragile islands’ ecosystem.

His passion is infectious. He is deeply concerned that with funds running out the future is looking bleak.

And, as he is not getting any younger, he wants to live to see his contemporaries continue his work.

He points out that since the 1980s the sea lion population in some areas has declined by 80 per cent.

Burkanov maps the habit of the rookeries using drones.

The cinematography – including aerial and underwater shots and time lapse photography – is spectacular (it reminded me of some of the great Sir David Attenborough’s work).

Through it, we get up close and personal and appreciate why Burkanov’s mission to save the natural habitat for the creatures that inhabit one of the world’s most remote and inaccessible places is so important.

What isn’t so clear is why the shift in fortunes is occurring, although climate change is mentioned.

The pictorial representation is aided by a strong and affecting score.

Quite frankly, 25 minutes was nowhere near enough for me. I wanted to see a full-length documentary on the animals and efforts to see their numbers grow.

On top of that, some of the natural landscape is truly breathtaking.

One thing is certain, raising awareness can, indeed, lead to positive change.

Let’s hope so.

You can view From Kurils with Love – which is the work of filmmakers Taylor Rees and Renan Ozturk, both of whom are also among the cinematographers – on YouTube.

It scores a 7½ out of 10.

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