Walking Under Water


Eliza Kubarska
2014 | 76 minutes | UK, Germany, Poland, Malaysia, Badjao
New York Premiere 

The historically nomadic Badjao people, a Moro indigenous ethnic group of Maritime Southeast Asia, once spent the majority of their time on the water, living off the sea by trading and subsistence fishing. While the encroachment of modern civilization has caused that way of life to become nearly extinct, vestiges remain. Walking Under Water uses the story of Alexan, the last compressor diver and his nephew Sari on Mabul Island near Borneo, as a window into this disappearing culture. Alexan teaches Sari everything he knows, from dangerous fishing techniques and wisdom about the underwater world to the temptations of the tourist economy. The film creates a hybrid of fantasy, fiction, and fact to spin a magical narrative of the Badjao’s ancient traditions and collective experience. Alexan refuses to accept that the life of his ancestors is gone; Sari longs to be a fisherman like his uncle, but feels the weight of the new reality of his people in the pull of a nearby resort. 

Continue the conversation after the film at our Mead Mixer, a daily happy hour in Cafe on One from 6-7:30 pm

Co-presented by the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in New York and Polish Cultural Institute New York