Review: Against The Tide (2023 Sundance Film Festival)

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Title: Against The Tide
Director: Sarvnik Kaur
Featuring: Ganesh Nakhawa, Manali Deepak Nakhawa
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Runtime: 1 hr 26 mins

What It Is: Fishermen Rakesh and Ganesh are inheritors of the great Koli knowledge system, a way to harvest the sea by following the moon and the tides. While Rakesh has kept faith in the traditional fishing methods, Ganesh has strayed away from them, embracing technology – putting the two brothers at odds.

What We Think: What a visceral ride Against The Tide is. From the duality of two individuals navigating a sea of challenges both in their businesses and at home, there is an abundance of tension and emotional conflict present at the forefront of the film. In the upmost vérité style, the film explores two sides of a changing industry amidst the ever-changing ecosystem that its products inhabit, shot beautifully through the lens of Ashok Meena – stunning imagery on display.

The main conflict between Ganesh and Rakesh is so fascinating to watch, in a world where technology has now dominated one of the oldest practices in human history, that perspective (on something that has been done for thousands of years, now being replaced with one that could continue for thousands more) is terrifying to acknowledge when reflected upon – it goes beyond the two brothers and their relationship and shows us how the climate has changed under the sea and over the waves. Haunting images of waste floating through schools of fish in murky waters breach the subject of ecological corruption, and the death of tradition.

What also captivated me is how much this documentary really makes you feel like a fly on the wall, or a fly on the deck in the more literal sense, being sprayed by the ravaging waves hitting the sides of the sometimes humble, sometimes greedy fishing boats. If the story doesn’t interest you in some areas, or if the pace lulls (which happens a few times), you will surely be satisfied by the fantastic flowing visuals.

Our Grade: B+; Sarvnik Kaur is a director I want to see more of. Her work here is a tantalizing glimpse into a very pure form of documentary film making that invites, exposes, and intrigues. I would absolutely recommend Against The Tide to anyone wondering about checking it out.

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