The Wonders and Whims of Water and the Wonder of Ingmar Bergman

Water which saw the “bathing of history”; water which has been influencing the surrounding dry land from time immemorial; water witnessing the silent intimacy between mother and daughter. Water living and dead, water of pools, seas, rivers, sewers, crystal clear family pools and floods. Get immersed in water with 66 Seasons, The Voice of the Water, and Irenka. In the period from August 22 to 28, the Doc Alliance Films portal offers a documentary bath with The Voice of the Water and Irenka for free.

“Another film about water…Can’t we ever get away from the water?” wonders the narrator in the introductory scene of the Dutch film The Voice of the Water. The feature documentary by renowned film classic Bert Haanstra conceives the Netherlands as the “country of water”, a region fatally wedged between the “high” rivers and the sea. The Oscar-winning documentarist has returned to the theme of his native country’s relation to water and its wonders and whims several times in his life. In The Voice of the Water, he explores this key Dutch element in a serious yet gently humorous way. Images of canals, the seashore, ports and pools create a sensitive portrait of people to whom these water surfaces mean places of work, entertainment as well as last reflections. Without a doubt, the most famous protagonist of Haanstra’s film is a young boy who struggles with his fear of putting his head under water during a swimming lesson. Ingmar Bergman is said to have wondered about how strong an emotion can be captured by documentary film regarding this scene.
The documentary 66 Seasons by Slovak director Peter Kerekeš captures the story of an old swimming pool in Košice. In the course of the film, it becomes a space for a playful reconstruction of the personal history of both the filmmaker and 66 years of Central and Eastern European history. It is a place where people come to seek relaxation, fulfil their desires and forget; however, in Kerekeš’s film, it is the other way round; memories are brought to life and even illustrated. The film also discusses the theme of collective dreams, people’s memory and time as such by means of combining contemporary film material, real as well as stylized archives.
Unlike the film about the Košice swimming pool, the film portrait Irenka by Czech documentarist Lukáš Kokeš has a rather intimate setting and theme. The surface of the crystal clear family pool creates a space reflecting the relationship between the director’s mother and sister. Although it is just one of them who is willing to take her clothes off, wear her swimming suit only and immerse in the clear water of the plastic retreat, and despite the fact that there is one theme they would rather not speak about, the two are very close to each other. Their intimate relationship is obvious not only from their off-screen accounts against the backdrop of the stylized film scenes but also from their fleeting glances they are giving each other with caution. The film was made as a student exercise at the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague.
The two of three films that have chosen water and its surface as a subject for their lens; a mediator evoking memories while representing a photogenic environment; can be streamed for free until August 28; the film 66 Seasons is available for free to Czech and Slovak viewers only.


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Doc Alliance is 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.