Day 6 and still going strong :P. Today: Walking Under Water (doc about compression divers), Free Fall (a trip into the bizarre) and The Fool (a manifestation of modern Russia).
VIFF 2014: Walking Under Water
Highlights a culture that could soon be lost…
Director: Eliza Kubarska
Production Company: BraidMade
Duration: 76 mins
In Badjao with English Subtitles
Reviewed By Alessandro Hutt
I fully admit that I am someone who is fascinated by underwater imagery. The vast reach of the unexplored ocean is something that I definitely want to know more about. While these subjects are not the focus of Walking Under Water, I still appreciated the breathtaking underwater photography. It augmented the social issue of the doc. Kubarska documented members of the Badjao tribe – nomadic people who live around Borneo, Indonesia and the Philippines. Their culture is disappearing, being swallowed up by the ever-encroaching culture of Western tourism. Income largely comes from fishing done by compression diving, which is slowly being fazed out of the culture. To highlight this, Kubarska follows 10-year-old Sari and his uncle Alexan on Sari’s first fishing trip.
The spirituality of the tribe is one facet that Kubarska put some focus on. Traditions that will seem odd to us, like offering tree spirits cigarettes. Traditions we can relate to like thanking the sea spirits before fishing. There is no judgment offered in the doc, as Kubarska is an silent observer while Alexan teaches Sari the way of his people. Even though Sari enjoys learning the fishing tradition, he must consider working at the local resort instead to support his family. It’s this contrast between the two that Kubarska highlights, but not by forcing her subjects into situations. She just lets the camera roll.
It becomes apparent just how much Sari is already living in an adult world dealing with adult choices. Truth be told I thought he was 16 or 17 by the way he acted rather than 10 years old. But then again I am coming at this with an outsider Western perspective.
That is mostly the reason why I will recommend the documentary. It’s a great chance to learn about culture that we might not have many more chances to know. The mesmerizing underwater sequences and the beauty of the ocean enhance the experience even more. It reminds me of last years Village at the End of the World, giving us a glimpse into the past, present, and possible future for a culture being changed by the West.