Against the Tide (2023)

Against the Tide (2023)

An immersive documentary that covers an impressive range of subjects in the lives of two fishermen

The Very Best



France, India
Hindi, Marathi
97 min


Deserves some sort of award for achieving this level of intimacy without having a single person look into and wink at the camera.

What it's about

The friendship between two Indigenous fishermen in Mumbai begins to fracture as they struggle to keep up with new challenges in their livelihood.

The take

Shot and edited in an immersive, unembellished style that makes it seem more like a work of narrative fiction than a documentary, Against the Tide begins from a personal place—the friendship between two Indigenous fishermen—before branching off into an exploration of a myriad of issues that these men and their families are involved with. Major credit goes to director Sarvnik Kaur not only for capturing life in Mumbai with loving (but never whitewashed) detail, but also for being a truly silent, invisible observer who never uses her camera to frame any of her characters as right or wrong. There's a dizzying amount of material that Kaur manages to tackle even in the simplest, candid conversations: class, caste, gender, the environment, technology outpacing the communities most affected. And to see the film's central relationships slowly be chipped away by all this change is as heartbreaking as any fictional tragedy.

What stands out

It may not appear that flashy at first, but Against the Tide is built with a technical precision that allows it to achieve its direct-cinema illusion effortlessly. And arguably the biggest contributor to making this on-the-ground style possible is the editing by Atanas Georgiev and Blagoja Nedelkovski. Without the help of talking heads or title cards or infographics to break up the footage, the editors have somehow filled seemingly every narrative gap with a real sense of momentum and drama intact. No easy feat when you're telling just one story, but Against the Tide arguably tells several: one from each of the two main fishermen, then more from the perspective of their home lives, and another as the two men clash and collide in their opposing views on their changing livelihood. There's so much here, all wrapped up in a modest, honest package.

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