“Sailing a Sinking Sea” falls into quite a different subgenre of documentary. In fact, it seems to inhabit a special category all its own. A feature length experimental observation of the Moken people of Burma and Thailand and their seafaring way of life, filmmaker Olivia Wyatt’s vision is more of a dreamy wave of colors and glowing ripples on screen than your typical doc. Shown through a highly saturated, yet still ethnic lens, if you are looking for a run of the mill, observational doc full of talking heads and spoon fed information, you will not find it within this mystical offering about a unique, evaporating culture.
The film observes the Moken people, a dwindling group of free flowing water gypsies that navigate through their ancient beliefs and traditions regarding the sea. One of the smallest ethnic minority groups still in existence in Asia, this is a group so inherently bound to the waves, that almost every one of them survived the massive tsunami over a decade ago - all in thanks to shaman premonitions and their intimate relationship with their watery surroundings. While we may feel as if we are completely soaked into this culture through their words and Wyatt’s special brand of bubbling packaging, something about the mix of people and world creates a barrier we can never personally get pass: these are people we feel we get to know but never fully understand. With less than 3,000 of them still in existence, this film seems the greatest, most important way to start to get acquainted: by going deep below the surface in comprehending their wisdom and spirtual connections to nature.
If you seek a cathartic journey into a different culture, one that completely transports you into another place and time, “Sailing a Sinking Sea” is available to rent now via Vimeo on Demand. At only 65 minutes, it’s well worth the short watch. Personally, I think this is a film best enjoyed at night, with heavy eyes, allowing the screen to create a dreamlike portal that drifts you away. Interested in what’s next for the filmmaker? Wyatt's upcoming project, entitled "Jasmine on Jupiter", will be an episodic multimedia series that involves sailing around the world in order to capture the beauty being lost to climate change along coastal communities. Sign us up for that expedition!
For more information on “Sailing a Sinking Sea” and filmmaker Olivia Wyatt, check out the links below:
Sailing a Sinking Sea website: http://sailingasinkingsea.com/
Olivia's website: http://oliviaowenswyatt.com/
Documentary Educational Resources: http://www.der.org/films/sailing-a-sinking-sea.html
Drag City (Vinyl LP + DVD): http://www.dragcity.com/artists/bitchin-bajas-olivia-wyatt