Award-winning documentary Wavumba is a sort-of Old Man and the Sea story that gives some truly inspiring insights into the rich traditions of African storytelling, aging and man’s relationship to the environment. Fantastical traditional tales are interwoven to paint a picture of a world of fantasy where the sea has a spirit, men can talk to fish, and seahorses dance on the waves. Dutch filmmaker Jeroen van Velzen revisits his memories of childhood stories past through wizened fisherman Masoud a legend who believes its his inexorable destiny to capture a giant shark all by himself. Through Masoud, van Velzen recaptures his Kenya spent youth and through van Velzen, Mashoud relives his glory days as a legend of the open water.
Wavumba has an otherworldly feel to it that beautifully captures a culture so steeped in legend and mysticism. Using long, meandering takes van Velzen follows Masoud as he takes to the water, fishing for octopus and smaller fish but still insistent that he can single-handedly catch a shark if one presents itself. It’s through the depiction of Masoud’s stubborn reluctance to let go of his past vigour that the film draws a comparison to the culture of spirit and connection to the natural world that’s likely to soon disappear. A truly original film, Wavumba is moody and intelligent without being pretentious and likely to cast a spell over you without feeling like it’s over-romanticizing this truly magical culture.
Is Wavumba Essential Planet in Focus Viewing?
This is exactly the kind of film that should be experienced on the big screen to truly immerse yourself in the world it’s depicting. This is also exactly the kind of film that thrives in a Festival environment, but might be a tough sell to commercial audiences, so be sure to take this chance to drink it in.
Wavumba Screening Times
- Saturday, October 13 at 4:15pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox
More about Wavumba
Wavumba Production Gallery