Film about those who survived one of the biggiest eco-catastrophe

Once there was a sea... is primarily short animated documentary about the Aral Sea. Most of the changes in climate and landscape in the area of the Aral Sea are the outcomes of one of the worst man-made eco-catastrophes in human history. The Aral Sea is dying. The idea of the film Once there was a sea... came to mind of director Joanna Kozuch during her train trips through the region of Middle Asia in 2008 and 2014. The film is inspired by the place on the borders of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and the stories and destinies of the people that she has met when I was exploring the disaster of Aral Sea. You will meet her friends: Russian one-eyed woman Svetlana Alexejevna, who worked in a cannery, and after closing her factory and fall of the Soviet Union, refused to leave to taiga; Russian Captain from Moynak, who lives in a caravan next to the monument of Aral sea and he's marking actual size of Aral to that monument every year; Sergej from Uzbekistan and his sons who transported me thru the desert storm to the bottom of glittering Aral sea, where we found a former soviet research department for biological weapons; Gulshat from Kazakhstan, the owner of the last hotel in Moynak. These stories will hopefully help us to make better decisions in the future.

When I was observing poor exfishermen in Uzbek city Moynaku, who are living on the dried coast dreaming, thinking and missing the Aral sea, I thought about Soviet planners and their absurd and devastating idea to change this land into cotton Great Power. Just a quote from Ryszard Kapuściński book Shah of Shahs came on my mind: “...There is no such silliness, which couldn’t be made up by the man...”

Original title: Bolo raz jedno more...

Director: Joanna Kozuch

Producers: Peter Badač, Joanna Wendorff-Ostergaard, Joanna Kozuch

Production companies: BFILM, animapol, plackartnyj


Premiere: 2021

Technique: collage of photos, sand and hand-draw animation

Film supported by: Slovak Audiovisual Fund, Polish Film Institute, Literárny fond, Bratislavský samosprávny kraj,

co-funded by the programme of European Union Creative Europe MEDIA