Sail the Documentary Waters!

Break free from your daily worries and set out to the documentary waters for one week during which we present films whose directors are fascinated by the water element and life with water, whether a harmonious or a strenuous one. Grab your online steering wheel and sail the film waters that can be both calm and tumultuous, well-known and unexplored. The direction and date are clear! From April 4 to 10, you can fish out original documentaries from the ocean of the film catalogue at!

They represent an exceptional fleet in the field of documentary film. Their port is at Harvard University under whose auspices the creative platform Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL) works on highly acclaimed films moving in a wide genre range between anthropologic research and documentary. The theme of water and the relation of human culture to this often overlooked life giver is naturally in the focus of the cameras of the filmmakers gathered at SEL.

American director J. P. Sniadecki, who currently lives in contemporary China, invites us for a ride on Shanghai’s Huangpu River in his short film THE YELLOW BANK. You can enjoy the river along with the intensive landscape of the megapolis during the longest solar eclipse and experience the unique moment when the city switches from darkness to daylight. In their documentary LEVIATHAN, the directing duo Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor use dozens of cameras to penetrate the traditional livelihood that nature brought man, following the never-ending, sometimes even ironically comical everyday struggle of the local fishermen with the deep waters of the ocean and its inhabitants on the coast of Massachusetts.

Do not forget to follow the list of other documentary films by filmmakers from SEL online here!

The filmography of famous documentary icons, too, includes unique perspectives on the phenomenon of water and stories of people related to it. In one of his earliest films BOATMAN, the recent holder of the second Golden Bear from Berlinale, Italian director Gianfranco Rosi, sets out on a boat trip on the sacred Ganges River to make an extraordinary collage of portrayals of anonymous persons to whom the river became the centre of their poor world.

In THE FERRY, Famous Latvian director Laila Pakalnina has chosen a shorter passage. The short documentary from the early 1990s captures the functioning of a ferry in Latvia’s border town of Piedruja. While the life linked to the monotonous journeys between Latvia and Belorussia seems completely undisturbed, the political disintegration of the former bloc of Eastern socialist countries, the Soviet Union, shakes the surrounding world.

Were you captivated by the films by Laila Pakalnina and Gianfranco Rosi? Do not hesitate and stream their film retrospectives! On your documentary journey through the waters of, our monthly or yearly film subscription might come in handy.

Pull the anchor, put the wind in your sails and don’t go off the right course – in the direction of quality online documentaries!

Free stream:
Cold Water
The Ferry
The Voice of the Water

Paid stream & download:
Broadway. Black Sea
The Yellow Bank

Selected films is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.

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