The Second Life of Burned Trees

Thousands of centenarian olive trees were burned during the 2022 summer wildfires in Greece. As these trees have lived through centuries, their carcasses formed ghostly figures; the locals referred to them as mythological creatures. (production note)

As in Saving Some Random Insignificant Stories, where the artist wades through her parents’ house destroyed by a flood and (re)constructs her own story using memorabilia rescued from the mud, in The Second Life of Burned Trees Anna Vasof becomes the documentarian of a living environment already stricken by catastrophe. After the forest fires in the summer of 2022 sucked the life out of them, the trees emerge like silhouettes against the ocher backdrop of devastated olive groves as mere shadows of themselves – charred but imposing skeletons. Their deep-rooted, gnarled, crooked trunks and twisted branches bear witness to a symbiosis with the environment that has lasted for centuries. At the same time, they fire the imagination of their viewers who then, in the grotesque shapes and patterns, see something completely different – would-be faces and figures.
In her hybrid animation film, Anna Vasof demonstrates this phenomenon of perception known as pareidolia. But moreover, in addition she allows the audience to participate in the creative outgrowths of her mind by bringing the characteristic physiognomies, poses, and gestures of her imagined creatures into view through incisive staging. Taking her role as animation artist as literally as the title of her film, she breathes new life into the motionless matter with the help of minimalistic effects: a blinking reptile, a snapping bird, and a man having a smoke while he intones a quiet, lethargic lament to the smoldering heat.  
The consequences of man-made global warming are neither abstract threats nor distant future scenarios: they have long since inscribed themselves entirely concretely in the present. After entire existences and histories have been devoured, Vasof searches for the remnants of these lives – and (re)invents them. She has produced an eco-horror meta-animation as clever as it is unpretentiously witty, one that finally puts a face on climate change. (Michelle Koch)

Translation: John Wojtowicz

Orig. Title
The Second Life of Burned Trees
6 min 15 sec
Anna Vasof
Orig. Language
No Dialogue
Anna Vasof
Concept & Realization
Anna Vasof
Available Formats
DCP 2K flat (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Frame Rate
25 fps
Color Format
Festivals (Selection)
Best Austrian Animation Film Festival
Uppsala - Int. Short Film Festival
Wien - VIS Vienna Shorts