Canadian filmmaker Ali Weinstein takes a “deep dive” into the subculture of people who identify, idolize, and essentially cosplay as mermaids, the often mythologized women of the sea who can bring prosperity or harm to people depending on what culture a particular story comes from.
Mermaids isn’t so much about the history of mermaids as it is about the people who either wished they could be one or made a living off acting out such fantasies. Weinstein looks at a Sacramento area dive where women entertain patrons by swimming in a tank over the bar, a transwoman who finds a sense of belonging and community while making tails for fellow mermaids, the legacy of the famed Weeki Wachee mermaids, and a loving older couple from Harlem who had a mer-wedding.
Mermaids isn’t a heavy or heady film, but it doesn’t have to be, and its inclusion in this year’s festival feels like a breath of fresh air. It’s a nice film about good people living out their dreams no matter what people might think of them (see also this year’s similarly themed festival entry Hobbyhorse Revolution). While Weinstein only occasionally gets to the heart of why the public has been entranced by mermaids for generations, the film certainly answers how these intriguing subjects relate to these mythical sea creatures. That’s more than enough for an entertaining diversion and a healthy dose of ear-to-ear smiles.