Walking Under Water (2014)

UK/Poland/Germany, Documentary, 76 min.

Alexan, the last compressor diver on Mabul Island near Borneo, teaches 10-year-old Sari everything he knows, from dangerous fishing techniques and the temptations of the tourist economy to wisdom about the underwater world.

Walking Under Water presents the Badjao tribe’s ancient traditions and collective experience as a magical narrative, spinning the urgent pressures and problems they face into a hybrid of fantasy, fiction and fact. The Badjao people once lived like fish, spending the majority of their time on the water, but with the encroachment of modern civilization that way of life has become nearly extinct. Breathtaking underwater photography emphasizes this loss and the drought of enchantment on dry land. While Alexan refuses to accept that the world of his ancestors is gone, Sari is torn between his longing to be a fisherman like his uncle and the tug of the new world in the form of a nearby resort.


Director Eliza Kubarska

Producer Monika Braid

Cinematographer Piotr Rosolowski

Editor Bartosz Pietras

Production Companies
Braidmade Films, Kloos & Co., Vertical Vision Studio and EBH

Funding Polish Film Institute, ZDF/ARTE



The Special Jury Prize Hot Docs

Special Mention at PLANET DOC Review in Warsaw

Special Mention at Los Angeles Film Festival

Palm Springs IFF John Schlesinger Award

Visionary Award at IWFF in Montana

Honorable Mention at Cinema Planeta in Mexico

Documentary Award at Sarasota WWF

Italia Prize at the Gran Paradiso Film Festival

Human Doc Warsaw the Best Polish Film Award

Nominated to Doc Alliance Award


Hotdocs Jury

Reminiscent of the classic documentaries of Robert Flaherty, WALKING UNDER WATER is an exquisite and lyrical experience.

DOX Magazine

…a mythological tale of wonder and water.

Palm Springs Int. Film Festival Jury

 A masterful and lush meditation of an unknown world that reveals a strong humanity while pushing the boundaries of filmmaking.