they who smell of fish
a documentary by Jeroen van Velzen
produced by SNG Film in co-production with the BOS
When Jeroen van Velzen lived in Kenia as a child he was very susceptible to the magical stories told to him by an old Kenian fisherman, Gatete. Stories about catching sharks and sea spirits. Gatete sometimes took him out fishing and together they would experience adventures. In the years that he lived in England at a boarding school, he would fantasize about this: with daydreaming he dispelled the loneliness. As Jeroen got older, his belief in sea spirits and supernatural powers disappeared, but a part of him still longed for that open, unprejudiced way in which he looked at life and for the magic that filled everything with colour.
That is why he wanted to return to the country where he grew up. Gatete has long since passed away, but on the coral island Wasini he met Mashoud, who reminded him of his first contact with Gatete.
Jeroen would like to tell the story of Mashoud who tries catch a shark in five days. Through the hunt for the shark, the stories of the past, told by three old people, are woven into the film. Some stories have really happened, others are myths. They express the magical fantasy world from his memories. The reality nevertheless sometimes yanks him out of his fantasy.
Mashoud unwearyingly carries on and continually surprises him with the energy and perserverance he shows. How long he also remains without a catch, Mashoud will never give in. Every day he sincerely believes that tomorrow he will catch a shark. That is exactly the frankness Jeroen was in search of.
On their last day together Mashoud shows him the sacred island Mpunguti, the place where his ancestors are buried. There Jeroen realises that the magic of this world rests in the simplicity of it. Wherein Mashoud, like generations before him, hunts the impossible in perfect serenity and with confidence in his own abilities.
the press about WAVUMBA:
"Stunning lensing and a deep respect for the stories of coastal Kenyans leave auds pleasantly ruminating on a world touched by magic long after the final credits roll"
"admirably subtle film"
direction: Jeroen van Velzen
screenplay: Jeroen van Velzen in cooperation with Sara Kee
camera: Lennart Verstegen
sound: Robil Rahantoeknam
editing: Stefan Kamp
line producer Kenya: Sara Kee
producer: Digna Sinke
length: 59 min. (tv version) & 80 min. (theater version)
the film is a co-production with the BOS and is made with support from:
the CoBO-fonds, Mediafonds and Nederlands Fonds voor de Film
< official website