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Interview With Czech President-Elect Petr Pavel; Interview With European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen; Interview With Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin; Interview With "Love of Fire" Director Sara Dosa. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 21, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what is coming up.
One year on, one war, but two very different speeches from President Biden and Putin as Eastern Europe takes the spotlight. My exclusive interview
with Petr Pavel, the president-elect of the Czech Republic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANNA MARIN, FINNISH PRIME MINISTER: The war in Ukraine is not only an issue for Europe, it's an issue for the whole world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: My conversation with European Commissioner President Ursula von der Leyen and the Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin. They tell me about
maintaining support for Ukraine, getting the global south on board, and about gender.
Also, ahead, the volcanic romance at the heart of the Oscar nominated documentary, "Fire of Love." Director Sara Dosa joins Hari Sreenivasan.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour live in Warsaw, Poland where today pomp and circumstance came to the castle to welcome the
arrival of the American President Joe Biden. Marking one year since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. leader pitted the war in
Ukraine as the defense of democracy against dictatorship. Take a listen to his speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: President Putin is confronted with something today that he didn't think was possible a year ago, the democracies of the
world have grown stronger, not weaker. But the autocrats of the world have grown weaker, not stronger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: In Moscow, of course, there was a different vision. President Vladimir Putin using his State of the Nation Address to paint Russia as the
victim of a war the West started.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The elite of the West do not conceal their ambition, which is to strategically defeat
Russia, to finish off once and for all. Let me just say, it is they who unleashed this war, and we use force to stop them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Meanwhile at NATO, there are concerns about China's intentions as Beijing's top diplomat Wang Yi lands in Moscow for the very first time
since Russia's invasion. But right now, all eyes are here on Eastern Europe, which has soared in importance over the course of this war,
providing support to Ukrainian fighters and sanctuary to its refugees.
Tomorrow, President Biden meets with the so-called Bucharest Nine. It's a group made up of the former Soviet Republics for whom this war triggers
painful memories. Among them is the Czech Republic and my next guest is the country's president-elect, Petr Pavel, who joins me now for an exclusive
President-Elect Pavel, welcome to the program. Of course, we are talking about the former Warsaw pact nations. And so, I wonder what you made today
of President Biden's robust speech right here in defense of democracy. Did he say what you are expecting?
PETR PAVEL, CZECH PRESIDENT-ELECT: Well, Christiane, I believe that President Biden's visit first to Kyiv and now to Warsaw is an extremely
strong signal not only to Russia, but also to all European countries that the United States will support Ukraine, will support our common principles,
and will stand by European allies.
AMANPOUR: So, then, let me ask you to respond to President Putin. You heard and saw his address to the nation in which he turned, essentially,
the story from a completely different perspective and said the West started this against us and that is why we had to use force. It is a narrative that
is actually, you know, finding footing in, not only Russia, but in many other parts of the world.
PAVEL: I think it's quite an example of Russian behavior, especially President Putin's behavior, and his foreign minister, Lavrov. In recent
years, their arguments are missing ours at different flight levels. They are using narratives that are very much different from reality. They are
concealing the facts. They feed their population with propaganda. They distort reality. And that is why it is so difficult to talk to them on any
AMANPOUR: Mr. President-Elect, you have been a former NATO commander in the headquarters. And I'm wondering what you make of Vladimir Putin, the
president of Russia, one year on essentially admitting that his army needs some help, his military needs some help. Let me just play a little bit of
his speech where he said, over the next five years, there need to be changes in the Russian military. Here is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PUTIN (through translator): It must become a priority to promote officers and sergeants who have proved themselves to be professional, up to date,
and determined commanders, and they are many. And to second them to senior military academies so that they will form a highly capable staff pool for
the armed forces.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I mean, he seemed to be admitting that they were not highly capable and they needed help. From your perspective, as a military man,
what is your assessment of the Russian military right now? Particularly as it's performing in -- around Bakhmut and in the East?
PAVEL: What we can observe on the battlefield from the very beginning, from the start of the aggression, it is a great under performance by
Russian military in all terms, you know, their tactics and their strategies and their equipment, in their logistics, command and control. There are a
number of very fatal mistakes that the Russian military made over last year.
So, obviously, very good for Ukraine. But we should not underestimate Russian capability to learn their lessons. They did it in the past several
times and we should see that they are now taking some lessons from other mistakes, they will improve training of their NCO staff. They will improve
training of their junior officers. They will improve their tactics based on the tactics used by Ukrainians and, of course, advised by all NATO
countries. So, they can learn, and we shouldn't underestimate that.
AMANPOUR: And of course, as everybody has told me, they have such an advantage in quantity if not in quality, and they have endless forces that
they seem to be conscripting and sending across inhuman waves. I want to ask you, Mr. President-Elect, though about the soaring importance of
Eastern Europe. It's suddenly come into its own because of its experience around this region, certainly during the Cold War and obviously, throughout
the -- you know, the domination by the Soviet Union.
How do you see where your region is right now, Eastern and Central Europe, in this whole NATO alliance and this NATO effort for Ukraine?
PAVEL: All Warsaw pact countries, former Warsaw pact counties who made their own experience with Soviet Union and now, Russia, are very clear on
what Russia is capable of. That's why we have no idealistic ideas about where Russia is heading, about the possibility of negotiations with Russia.
We all know that Russia understands power.
And for us, power becomes -- well, it comes from unity. That's why we are very clear in a united approach of all E.U. and NATO countries against
Russian aggression so that they are driven off Ukrainian territory and Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity is restored. This is the
And the Central and Eastern Europe countries can play a role there because they were all in the first group assisting Ukraine with weapons, including
heavy weapons with ammunition, financial support, accommodating a number of refugees from Ukraine. This is what we do because we see it as a necessity.
AMANPOUR: So, do you -- I mean, basically, you are saying that the experience, you know, Hungary then Czechoslovakia at the time, you know,
all these nations were overrun by the Soviet Union and, you know, their freedom movements were crushed in the '50s. Do you think that you get this
danger more than the West or further West, and do you think there actually needs to be a lot more heavy weaponry supplied, for instance, aircraft?
This is the big conundrum right now.
PAVEL: We all understand, in this part of Europe, you know, that Russia has to be defeated because they really understand the power. That's why we
support Ukraine and providing necessary equipment. However, with the aircraft, it's a bit more complicated because it's much easier to train
crews for tanks and artillery. It's more complicated with the air force because it's not just about pilots, it's about all land crews, all the
support at the air fields, ammunition, stocks, it takes, at minimum, half a year.
And of course, time is a critical factor now for Ukraine. So, we should provide Ukraine, at this moment, mainly heavy equipment, tanks, armored
vehicles, artillery, long range missiles, and also, air defense. These are crucial assets for Ukraine toppled with loads of ammunition.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask about the worries is now within NATO about China's intentions. You probably saw the Munich Security Conference that Wang Yi,
the highest, you know, diplomat there, foreign minister, talked about a peace plan that the Chinese would bring. Apparently, not having included
the Ukrainians the -- a peace plan that might talk about a cease-fire now.
First and foremost, I want to ask you about that. Is that even got legs given that that would freeze and place the current lines?
PAVEL: I am personally very cautious about any Chinese proposal with regard to Ukraine because should China really wanted change things, they
had a chance several times from the beginning of a conflict. What is clear, China is watching very carefully what is going on in Russia. China is
monitoring all our reactions, the unity of the West, the effectiveness of our measures, because they also are learning lessons for any potential
confrontation between China and the West, and especially the United States.
AMANPOUR: And you broke with quite a long-standing tradition after your election. You had a call with your Taiwanese counterpart. Obviously,
Beijing reacted furiously. Why did you think that it was important to take that call and have that conversation at this time?
PAVEL: Well, first, the Taiwanese president offered a welcome to our elections result. They wanted to congratulate me. So, I took it as a matter
of courtesy to respond. And second, Taiwan is our important economic partner. We have a number of joint ventures, quite a significant exchange
of goods, cooperation in research and development, and that is the reality. That is why I don't see anything wrong on having contacts with Taiwan, not
disregarding the principle of one China two systems.
AMANPOUR: Very quickly, are you concerned that China might start supplying arms to Russia's effort? Apparently, the U.S. says there is no evidence it
has done so, but it's trying to tell them this would be a very bad idea.
PAVEL: My personal view is that China has no real interest in the defeat of Russia. They need Russia not too strong, but also not to collapsed
because Russia will be their natural ally against the West. So, I believe there might be some kind of support from China to Russia.
AMANPOUR: And not all European nations are on board. Right near where you are, there is Hungary. Hungary has not sent weapons to Ukraine and, you
know, it didn't come to the Munich Security Conference where you were all there. What are your concerns about Hungary?
PAVEL: Prime Minister Orban and his foreign minister, Szijjarto, expressed their pro-Russian views quite frequently. There are some facts supporting
this approach, mainly nuclear energy, because Russia is a contractor to Hungarian nuclear power plant impact (ph). It's financed out of 80 percent
by Russia. And of course, Hungary wants this power plant to be finalized.
So, there are other, you know, issues that work for Hungary, and that's to take some distance from other European countries and be very independent in
their own positions that brings them closer not only to Russia but also to China.
AMANPOUR: You are president-elect. You've got the challenge of leading your country forward in this very, very difficult time but you also are a
former general. And I want to know what you think, how do you see the battlefield in Ukraine over the next weeks and months.
PAVEL: As all allies and partners, we all support Ukraine in their final victory. And that victory would be in complete Russian withdrawal from
Ukrainian territory and restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.
However, I wouldn't be too optimistic that this may happen in a couple of weeks or months. We shouldn't really underestimate Russian capacity in
providing large number of equipment, even though a little bit obsolete. And as for the personnel, not so well trained, inexperienced. But still, Russia
may maintain this conflict for a long time, which would obviously make it very much difficult for Ukraine and Western partners now to sustain the
level of operations in Ukraine. However, we all aim at bringing Ukraine to victory.
AMANPOUR: President-Elect Petr Pavel of the Czech Republic, thank you very much for joining me on this really important day. And everybody of the
Bucharest Nine will be meeting with President Biden tomorrow. You will not be, because you are not yet in office, but all of your countries will be
involved in that bilateral session with President Biden. Thanks for joining us.
Now, from where I am, actually now in Warsaw, it does seem that just about everyone is committed to standing by Ukraine until the war is won. But
outside Poland and outside NATO, it's a very different story. Much of the global south, so called, believe much of Moscow 's narrative.
Over the weekend at the Munich Security Conference, western leaders spoke about how to change this dynamic. And I talked with the European Commission
President, Ursula von der Leyen, and also the Finnish Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: It is important that we are very clear about what this Russian war is. It is about Putin's
imperialistic plans. And this is something where all of us, and mainly the global south, have a very clear idea. It is completely unacceptable.
VON DER LEYEN: And countries on the other side of the Mediterranean have bitter and long-standing experience. First you send the negotiators in,
then you send -- they see that the experts are sending -- are being sent in, and then it's mercenaries that are being sent in.
So, what we have to do is not only explain that we will never, ever accept this imperialistic war. We will never, ever accept that Putin is trampling
on the international law that protects all of us. That the U.N. Charter, that is also in the interest -- I mean, it's in the interest of every
single country, is being treated so disrespectful. And that we will never accept that today you can send tanks just across the border to invade a
And this is something which my experience in the last 12 months needs a lot of just hard work, to work together with, as you said, the global south to
make understood our point of view. But also, to work with them on dealing with a knock-on effect of this atrocious war.
This is the food crisis. This is the energy crisis. And that we do our utmost to deal with the knock-on effects in a way that the global south
does not suffer too much from Putin's war of aggression. This is our task. It is hard work, but it's absolutely worth it.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister Marin, somebody as called a hero around the world as President Lula of Brazil also doesn't believe in the intervention that
you all have taken in NATO against, as you describe, the illegal invasion of one country by an -- a bigger country. So, as Commissioner von der Leyen
says, we will never support this. We understand their historic issues. How do you see trying to convince others of the justness of your cause?
SANNA MARIN, FINNISH PRIME MINISTER: The war in Ukraine, it's not only an issue for Europe. It's the issue for the whole world. And that's because
there is a war of values going on. Authoritarian countries are raising their heads. They are raising their head against the international rule-
based order, and this is a problem for everyone.
When Russia attacked Ukraine, it violated all the rules, all the agreements, it has itself been committed to before. And this is a problem
for everyone because then we will only see decades of this kind of behavior ahead of us if Ukraine doesn't win the war and if we don't stand behind our
values and the international rule-based order.
So, I think this is a larger issue than just an issue for Europe, just issue for Ukraine. And we have to do utmost to make sure that Ukraine win,
and that we will preserve this system of rules that we have created together. And there was a reason why this was created. The wars before, the
world wars, that we have seen, and it was devastating. And that's why we built system where we can negotiate, where we can build peace, where we can
build peace, not use violence against each other, wars, attack another country to make a stand gain or gain something.
AMANPOUR: President von der Leyen, you remember very well, this time last year, there was warnings by the United States and the U.K. that Putin was
planning an invasion. Your country, Germany, others, including the president of Ukraine who was sitting here, did not want to accept that that
was a reality. And basically, were trying to say, no, we hope negotiation can work. Anyway, it didn't.
But even then, you were saying in your speech last year, and you used Ukraine as the cornerstone, you talked about Ukrainians as the new
generation, young Ukrainians, of democrats around the world. Do you believe that this unity and steadfastness in the interim year will continue? Can
you keep all your fractious members on board, and people -- 500 million people in the block?
VON DER LEYEN: Absolutely, I'm today more convinced than I was a year ago. But to set the record straight, indeed our American friends, way more than
a year ago, started to do something completely unprecedented. That they took their intelligence and what knowledge and put it on the public market.
This gave us in early warning. And my cabinet and the commission started to work with the White House and with the treasury already in December on
potential sanctions in case that Russia would invade Ukraine.
Indeed, we all hoped that it would never happen, and we would never have to use these sanctions. But it was a tedious work, day and night, to align our
very different trade systems. To develop sanctions that are targeted at advanced technologies and goods that are irreplaceable for Russia. And to
be completely synchronized also within the G7. This made it possible that on day two, day four, and day 10 of the invasion, we were able to put on
the table very heavy sanction packages.
So, there was the early warning from the United States that was helpful, and there was work being done without which we would not have been so
effective. The second point is indeed, for me, really touching, is the fact how Europeans, and I would say democracies, our friends of course, and
allies and partners have immediately understood that this was serious and it is going to the core of our existence.
Of course, we have many issues that we discuss. But here from day one on we were standing as one. We were united. We are united.
And if you look back, I mean through all the crisis we have gone, including the energy crisis and we have mastered it, today I can really say I'm
deeply convinced that we will keep the unity and we will keep a determination because it is about our values and our very existence 0we are
MARIN: Looking back three steps, first when the war started, we were prepared, and the commission was prepared, making the sanctions together
with all our allies and we were very fast of putting those sanctions on place. So, we were prepared on that stage that way.
But looking back now, it was obvious that Russia will attack. We didn't want to believe it. We tried everything that we could to make a diplomatic
solution, and that of course was the right effort to do, to -- trying to make a diplomatic solution. But looking back, it was obvious that Russia
will attack Ukraine.
They already used the energy leverage during that summer, during that autumn, they already used the energy leverage. There was different kind of
disruptions with the energy flows during that year of 2021. They had put their troops in different places saying that they are only training.
Looking back now, it was obvious that they were planning this big attack against Ukraine.
And then looking way back to 2014, when the Crimea was invaded, we made a big mistake then. We made a big mistake then together not to react more
strongly. If we had acted and reacted more strongly towards the Crimea, then the war wouldn't happen. I think Russia thought that it would be just
like Crimea, just entering Ukraine. Ukraine would give them -- open welcome. It would last only for a few weeks and Putin would win very
quickly and easily the war because we did not react in 2014.
And now, we have to learn some lessons on the current situation. And I think the main lesson is not to be naive. We cannot be naive. I listened to
the previous panel and I agree. I also want the world, which is beautiful and good and secure and we don't have to put money to our military forces,
to our defense forces. I also want that world, but that world isn't a reality.
The only way to secure peace, the only way to secure the international rule-based order, is to make sure that Europe and democratic countries are
strong. That we are investing in our defense capabilities. That we have that leverage and that we have also that threat present that these
authoritarian countries, where Russia is a terrible example, that they don't use force because they are also and they have to think, also, twice
will they use the force and what will be the consequences.
AMANPOUR: Therefore, and this is the question -- and we're trying to figure this out. What does winning look like to you? You all have said very
strongly -- what you've just said, prime minister, but what does winning look like? And in for a penny, in for a pound surely.
Surely you have to go to the very end, giving all the support that Ukraine needs to fight this war for them and for you. Is there -- are you worried,
ammunition production is not up and running like it should? There is some slowness, let's say, in get -- in between requesting weapons and getting
there. I know you've done an incredible job. But we are talking about an offensive. We are talking about a war that yesterday Chancellor Scholz said
could go on for years. While, Zelenskyy, the president, is saying he wants to end it this year. Don't you have to double, redouble, triple down on
your efforts to end this in a victory? What does a victory look like? Nobody's defined it.
VON DER LEYEN: Well, absolutely we have to double down and we have to continue the, really, massive support that is necessary. That these
imperialistic plans of Putin will completely fail, this is one goal, and that Ukraine is able to win. And what the military support is concerned,
indeed, I think it's now the time, really, to speed up the production and to scale up the production of standardized products that Ukraine needs
For example, the standardized ammunition. It cannot be that we have to wait months and years until we are able to replenish artillery, we are able to
deliver that to Ukraine. What I thought is that we now take the European peace facility, it is in place. It is there to typically fund that member
states give military equipment to Ukraine. So, it is an established body. It has a coordination mechanism with Ukraine. And that we convene the
defense industry of Europe.
And we very clearly ask them what is it what you need to scale up and to speed up standardized products. I'm not speaking about the highly complex
production of specific things, but the standardized products like 155- millimeter artillery, for example.
So -- and we need now to do the same that we have done during the pandemic. They are two we've said, look -- to the pharmaceutical companies.
VON DER LEYEN: What is it what you need to scale up?
VON DER LEYEN: We could think of, for example, advanced purchase agreements that gives the defense industry the possibility to invest in
production lines now to be faster and to increase the amount they can deliver. And therefore, it is for us paramount now to support Ukraine in
these existential things.
I think a second element we should not underestimate is the economic security of Ukraine. Ukraine needs to survive economically. And they're --
it's good that we now have decided to have a regularly budget support for Ukraine, 1.5 billion per month, by the European Union. Our American friends
are matching that. And I think the International Financial Institutions should be -- should do more for that also.
VON DER LEYEN: So, it is the time to step up because Ukraine really needs the material to survive.
AMANPOUR: I need to ask you both a question about the 50 percent. This conference is meant to be, you know, 50 percent of women, maybe it is,
maybe it isn't. You might have just seen, obviously Jacinda Ardern, hugely popular prime minister of New Zealand. Resigned, citing she hasn't got any
more energy in the tank. Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, resigning. (INAUDIBLE) talking about how difficult it is, particularly as a
woman, to lead any kind of normal life, you know as a global leader.
I wonder what you both think about that because you're the first female in this position. You were the first female defense minister in your country.
You've experienced sexism. So, just briefly, how do you deal with it? What do you think about them stepping down? And how do you encourage women? I
know that's a lot, but maybe a brief sum up and then I'm going to ask you.
MARIN: Well, first of all, I am so happy that we live in countries where leaders change. That's a good thing.
AMANPOUR: Prime minister --
MARIN: That leaders change.
AMANPOUR: That's all good. But if I was targeting it to you --
MARIN: Yes, yes. I understand. I understand.
AMANPOUR: -- I would ask you, why did you have to apologize for being a human being? You were found, you know, found dancing. Oh, my goodness, how
AMANPOUR: And you had to apologize for being a human being. Why?
MARIN: And I have also danced after that one time. I think there is -- of course, there's lot to be done when it comes to gender equality. It's very
important that we have people from different backgrounds, different genders, but also different backgrounds in decision-making places at the
same table making the decisions, because then we have the perspective of everyone.
Women are 50 percent of the world. So, women need to be 50 percent of the decision-making bodies. I know that Ursula and the commission is preparing
to set a bill for companies to have more women representatives on the board of companies. I think this is a very important step forward. I think also
in the political system we have to make sure that women have the possibilities to step up, to have their voices heard.
There are a lot of structures within our political systems to actually prevent women to get those positions, to be heard. Many times, it's enough
that there's one woman. Look, we have this woman here, no problem. We have a woman here, no problem. But we need more women, and we need really that
50 percent to make sure that everybody's voice is heard.
AMANPOUR: So, commissioner -- I mean, president, why then is it so difficult? Why do you have to tolerate so much backlash, misogyny, everyday
sexism, all of that?
VON DER LEYEN: Well, because they are deep rooted unconscious biases. And --
AMANPOUR: But with you now discourage or encourage more women to appear?
VON DER LEYEN: Well, I can only encourage more women to be on stage because that is where we belong, in the limelight. And women or men, either
one or the other are not better than the other, but we are different. And that's the point that we have to, of course, take the share of the power to
change this world and to improve this world. And I think for that, I mean, I know you've -- we are doing a lot. You need leadership from the top, that
is very important.
Every man on -- in a top position, every woman in a top position, has to influence that there are more women coming -- growing up to the top. Of
course, it's also a question of infrastructure. So, I vividly remember my most difficult time where the first years as a minister with small
children. And all these hidden prejudices, I got the question -- I mean, in talks like these ones, have you already decided whether you want to be a
bad mother or bad minister.
So, there was this hidden prejudice, you cannot be either a good minister or a good mother if you are a working mom (ph). We all know these
prejudices. Wwhat we have to do is to make sure that the infrastructures are there. That you have for young couples support with what is necessary
in kindergarten, childcare, and good schools.
We have to make sure that until we have an equal distribution of men and women in positions of power, I am an advocate for a quota. That's the
reason why we introduced a quota in Germany. That's the reason why we introduced a quota now on the European level, because the time till women,
kind of, grow natural through the ranks -- naturally through the ranks is just too long.
VON DER LEYEN: And therefore, still a lot is to do, but I can only recommend to women to hang on there because we need you. We need your voice
and it's absolutely important that you are there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Just such a fascinating discussion about the hard power when it comes to Ukraine, and also how to achieve equality in all fields of life.
Now, we turn to a burning love story between one couple and the natural world. The documentary, "Fire of Love", tells the epic tale of scientists
Katia and Maurice Krafft and their lifelong quest to discover the stories and the secrets of volcanoes. Since its release, the film has received
critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination. Director Sara Dosa joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the incredible footage shot by the pair during their
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks. Sara Dosa, thanks so much for joining us. First of all, when you look at the premise
of this movie, it kind of -- just blows your mind. What? There was a couple that studied volcanoes? How did you find a story?
SARA DOSA, DIRECTOR, "FIRE OF LOVE": First, just thank you so much for having me on today. It's great to be here. I first found the story,
actually, serendipitously while doing research with my team on the last from I directed, that's a film called "The Seer and the Unseen". And it
tells the story of an Icelandic woman who is in communication with spirits of nature.
And we wanted to open that film actually with archival imagery of erupting volcanoes in Iceland. And once we went about the research, we learned about
Katia and Maurice Krafft because not that many people had films of erupting volcanoes in Iceland before but they had. Once we learned about their love
for each other and the planet, we were absolutely hooked. They -- seems like they had this kind of a mythical love story. The fact they were in
love with each other and the earth. So, that got the ball rolling on making "Fire of Love."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alone, I could only dream volcanoes. Together they can reach them. They meet on a blind date at a cafe. From here on out, life
will only be volcanoes, volcanoes, volcanoes.
MAURICE KRAFFT, VOLCANOLOGIST (through translator): it's hard for volcanologists to live to live together. It's volcanic. We erupt often.
SREENIVASAN: Tell me about this couple. That's, sort of, so fascinating to me. How did two people who love volcanoes so much decide to do this?
DOSA: Yes, Katia and Maurice Krafft are such singular individuals. They met as university students in Alsace, France in the late '60s. And they
realized that they both possessed this rare passion for volcanoes. Both of them grew up in postwar France right along the German border and they both
possessed a, kind of, sense of disillusionment with humanity.
They kind of felt that humans destroyed more than they had created. Whereas they had this idealistic vision of volcanoes as this creative force that,
you know, that created land that brought life to the world.
And having that unique perspective at such a young age caused them to bond. Once they began traveling the world together, exploring erupting volcanoes,
they experienced a kind of transcendence, perhaps, you can call it, by witnessing something that powerful, that beguiling as a volcanic eruption.
There's kind of no turning back. They wanted to dedicate their lives towards exploring that mystery and the fact they had each other along the
way, it made it all the more important and meaningful for them.
SREENIVASAN: Tell us about all of these reels of footage that you must have gone through, all of these still photos that you used in here. I mean,
they were documenting all of this in a park for scientific research, right?
DOSA: They were, yes. Katia and Maurice and their cohorts when they first started out working in volcanology were really devoted towards capturing
volcanic phenomena on camera because, you know, no volcano erupts the same way twice. This is fleeting phenomena. And when you can set it to the
camera, through still photography or cinematography, it becomes, kind of, scientific data that allows study time and time again.
So, their work was extremely important. And it also enabled their adventures to move forward because they were supported for this kind of
documentation work as well. But that caused them to shoot just hundreds of hours of footage. It wasn't just data. It was also a conduit for them to
connect with, kind of, the beauty and the magic and the mystery of the planet that they were absolutely in love with capturing that imagery as
Catching responses with celebrities in France -- they became celebrities over time in France because people were so intrigued by this unique life --
life's pursuit and this love story. And so, they appeared on television shows, on the news, they even had their own educational program for kids.
So, I'll just say, along with all of the footage that they themselves shot, there is a visual and audio record of them that was available to us to get
to use it as well.
SREENIVASAN: Yes, we don't -- I guess we take it for granted now because we've grown up seeing things that -- well, before these two, no one had
ever seen rivers of lava flowing, right? Unless you happen to live near a volcano or some of the types of eruptions. Now, of course, we go do that
with bigger cameras and lenses and -- but they were really the pioneers of this. Bringing back this footage of almost another world to the rest of us.
DOSA: Yes, that's a beautiful way of putting it. And of course, people have lived in relationship with volcanoes for thousands and thousands of
years. Depicting it through art and through stories. But the way that Katia and Maurice used their cameras to document volcanoes, it -- again, it
wasn't just scientific data. I really believe it was art.
There's such a palpable love that radiates behind their frames. You can really feel that kind of connectedness. That desire to be as close as
possible. And they did in fact go as close as possible to get these kinds of shots. I'm still in awe of the kinds of compositions that they captured,
especially considering the, you know, the heat. One of my favorite shots of Katia in Iceland in the mid-'80s, when she gets up so close to the edge of
the Krafla Volcano, and she has a thermometer in her hands, and apparently that reading was 1,200-degree Celsius.
And there's moments where you can kind of detect a smile on her face as she is coming back. And she's just in awe. She's just absolutely in love. Yet
that is just utterly dangerous what she is experiencing in that moment.
SREENIVASAN: Yes, you know -- and there are these really wonderful, kind of, lighthearted moments as well. Yes, they have the camera there to
capture kind of the potential eruption and all those other stuffs, but it's also a little bit like, you know, your home videos that just happened to be
right next to a volcano.
DOSA: Absolutely, yes. Katia and Maurice were known for their sense of humor. They were very playful people. That comes across absolutely in the
footage. And it is something that their friends and colleagues and family members, who we actually interviewed as well, always spoke about.
But as a team, we talked a lot about their humor, both in terms of how we can make sure that their personality was captured in our film. But also,
what it means to kind of live in relationship to death the way the two of them did. You know, they knew that they could die at any moment pursuing
such dangerous work, and that almost seemed to free them up to understand the kind of absurdity to life, so to speak.
There's a levity to things. They were kind of freed from lesser concerns, perhaps. They would always comment on what they viewed as, kind of, petty
and vain human preoccupations. But to be close to a volcano, it was kind of akin to being with a divine in a way. And that seemed to allow them to
dwell on this, kind of, playful humorous worlds that were bound up with their life's philosophy too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The unknown is not something to be feared. It is something to go toward.
KATIA KRAFFT, VOLCANOLOGIST (through translator): I like when he walks in front of me. If he is going to die, I'd rather be with him.
SREENIVASAN: You know, they kind of took different approaches. You, at one point, describe one of them as a bird and the other as, what, a seal.
DOSA: Sure, yes. Yes, in that scene we call -- we say, Katia is more like a bird, Maurice is more like an elephant seal. And we used these shots of
them each playing. Katia playing with the bird, it's kind of like diving and she's kind of bobbing and weaving with it.
And then Maurice is egging on this bold elephant seal, just a very dangerous animal, yet he's kind of beckoning it to come towards him. That
comparison, we really wanted to use their own footage to describe their personalities. And we also -- that specific reference actually comes from -
- it's inspired by a few lines in their obituary that describe them in similar terms.
I should say that every creative choice that we made in the film was really guided by Katia and Maurice themselves. We really saw them as our North
Star. But as you said, they were very different people. They have this shared goal and they knew that they needed each other to support each other
in pursuing this meaningful life of love with their volcanoes. But they did have different approaches that created conflict at times.
Katia was thought to be a bit more methodological. She, by no means, was cautious. She was extremely bold and courageous. But Maurice was a bit more
impetuous. He's just so desire to be as close to volcanoes as possible that he would risk absolutely everything. He was known to have certain, kind of,
antics, or to really be such a daredevil that sometimes Katia believed that his daring ways would jeopardize the legitimacy of their scientific work.
And so, that caused them to tussle. However, they would always, kind of, reconcile knowing, again, that they had to if they were going to live this
life of purpose that they -- so, you know -- yes, devoted their lives to pursuing.
SREENIVASAN: They shifted at one point from studying the red volcanoes, the hot lava that we think about to the gray volcanoes which spew tons of
ash and cause all kinds of other destruction. Why did they do that and why was that significant?
DOSA: That's a great question. They were so dedicated to exploring all kinds of volcanoes. And so, of course, we're very aware and intrigued by
gray volcanoes, otherwise known as explosive volcanoes. But they were particularly animated by the pursuit of the unknown. They had an
opportunity in 1980, when Mount Saint Helens erupted, to delve deeply into researching a gray volcano like Mount Saint Helens.
Of course, there's a tragedy, nearly 60 people were killed. The entire area was destroyed. Yet it was a watershed moment in the field of volcanology to
study this kind of once in human lifetime type of eruption. It absolutely ignited Katia and Maurice's curiosity. And they felt like there was an
opportunity to, you know, this type of volcano that wasn't as well understood because they're so rare, because they're so powerful, and
because they're so dangerous.
And for Katia, who was particularly driven by, kind of, this pursuit of scientific understanding. For her, she wanted to have this opportunity to
really learn. And Maurice too, he, of course, is so in love with that idea as well, but the danger got him all the more excited.
And so, for them, they decided to kind of compromise and dedicated their lives towards studying gray volcanoes. And I say compromise because at that
moment in their relationship and in their lives, Maurice is very much wanting to develop a kind of vessel that would allow him to ride down a
lave flow -- a red lava flow. He was so excited about this and would often tease Katia with this. It's kind of like, they wanted to -- or he wanted to
get so close that he literally wanted to be in the lava flow.
But through their conversations, based on our research, they kind of compromised and the said -- instead said, OK. Studying explosive volcanoes,
that kind of will get them as close to the danger as Maurice wants and provides this opportunity for understanding like Katia wants. And so, they
really shifted their focus towards that kind of study and that carried them through the rest of their lives.
SREENIVASAN: How did the scientific community react to them?
DOSA: Yes, the scientific community definitely has diverse opinions about Katia and Maurice. By in large, what we found with the science advisers
that we were working with on our film and since the film has been released, is that Katia and Maurice we're very much celebrated as pioneers. They were
so dedicated towards collecting this imagery.
And so, driven by their love that their work went on to inspire generations of people to go into geosciences as well. And for Katia, in particular, she
battled such sexism doing the work that she did as one of the only women in volcanology at that time.
And one of the most rewarding things that's happening for our team now is we get all kinds of letters from people saying, I knew about Katia when I
And I learned about her and she was the reason why I am a geoscientist now, or some people today are saying, thank you for Katia, my little girl saw
her and dressed up as -- for, you know, as Katia for Halloween. And now -- you know, it's engendering this love of science.
So, the way that she, in particular, was a role model was extremely meaningful. But, of course, you know, they did defy safety regulations to
go about the work that they did and that created some controversy for people for sure. But their life's work really begs that question. How far
would you go for your work? How far would you -- what would you sacrifice for your passion, especially in the name of science? And that's something
that a lot of scientists today very much wrestle with in order to do the kind of daring and world changing work that they do.
SREENIVASAN: You know, one thing I wonder is, you know, perhaps this is a testament to your filmmaking. But by the time we get to the point in the
film where we discuss the end of their lives, as a viewer, you're sad. You felt connected to them over the period of the film. And I wonder, given all
the research you did, what did you learn about what happened to them?
DOSA: Yes, on their last trip, Katia and Maurice we're very focused on capturing a very particular shot of a pyroclastic flow, which is one of the
most dangerous forces on the planet. They wanted to do so, so that they could illustrate how pyroclastic flows moved so they could put it in a
video about understanding volcanic hazards that they were using to teach governments and decision-makers how to comprehend this very mysterious and
very dangerous force.
It was really their goal that in Maurice's quixotic terms that volcanoes no longer kill, which of course, is not actually possible. But they witnessed
such devastation, namely at the eruption of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia, 1985, where over 22,000 people died because they were not evacuated in
time. There weren't proper warning systems put in place.
That they really wanted to use their imagery to, instead, teach people on how these dangerous forces worked to save lives. So, that's really what
they were doing that day in June in 1991 at the base Mount Unzen, they were trying to capture a particular shot.
And it's tragic yet there's something deeply poignant and poetic about the fact that they were trying to save lives when they themselves lost their
own life -- lives. They did so along with 41 other people, including their friend and fellow volcanologist Harry Glicken. So, it's quite tragic. And
there's people that are mourning them today. But their work really has gone on to save lives and to teach people how to understand this very mysterious
SREENIVASAN: So, on a brighter note, what is it like to be an Oscar nominee?
DOSA: It's a profound honor and I -- I'm deeply humbled. I'm still surprised by our Oscar nomination. My team and I, we tend to make video
idiosyncratic films about idiosyncratic people and we never, in a million years, imagined that this would happen. But it's one of those moments where
I just, kind of, look back and feel just an overwhelming sense of gratitude for all of my mentors, for my collaborators, for Katia and Maurice for
sharing their story with us even, you know, from their volcano in the sky.
Yes, I think gratitude is really the thing that brought us forth most. I also -- I'm humbled to be in the company of the other films nominated. I
absolutely love them all and I have developed friendships with different filmmakers along this journey. And so, it is very meaningful to be in this
And yes, I just -- I love the fact that more people are going to know the story of Katia and Maurice Krafft now. You know, their story hasn't come to
life that much in the past 30 years since their deaths. So, the fact people get to know this wonderfully, charismatic couple who can relay what it
means to fall in love with the Earth, that is particularly gratifying for me. And the fact that their work is getting this kind of recognition today
is very meaningful.
SREENIVASAN: The film is called "Fire of Love". Director Sara Dosa, thanks so much for joining us.
DOSA: Thank you so much for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Role models, indeed, putting it all out there for their passion.
And finally, tonight, fresh from his meeting with President Biden, hosting him here in Warsaw, I sit down with the Polish President Andrzej Duda here
in the capital. So, join us tomorrow night to see that interview in full. And next, I traveled to Ukraine for reporting on a year of resistance and
the future of this war.
But that's it for now. Remember, you can always catch us online, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and on our podcast. Thank you for watching and
goodbye from Warsaw.