Walking Under Water

P.Rosołowski/ D.K

Reminiscent of the classic documentaries of Robert Flaherty, Walking Under Water is an exquisite and lyrical experience. The grand beauty and awe of cinema.

HotDocs Jury



The Badjao people once lived freely, spending majority of their time on the water, but with the encroachment of modern civilization their way of life has become nearly extinct.

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

Walking Under Water presents the Badjao tribe’s ancient lifestyle in a magical narrative, spinning the urgent problems they face into a hybrid of fantasy and fact.

You can watch film (in Poland) here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/badjao

official trailer

geo-social context

  Borneo. Somewhere on the Sulu and Celebes seas there is a community of sea nomads with amazing skills. They live like a fish, spending most of their life on the water. They can walk and hunt on the sea-bed holding their breath for 5 minutes. Their eyes are adapted to focus underwater.  Living freely, they often have no ID’s, no citizenship and obviously no money. Some don’t even know how old they are…  Badjao are ancient masters of the sea pushed to the edge of extinction by the changing forces of the modern world.   While all families can live on their boats for long days, there is a time coming to visit harbour.  For some, it proves to be nerve-wrecking experience…

In the very same town diving industry thrives with thousands of Western tourists arriving to watch coral reefs and rich underwater fauna. In one day you can spot sharks, turtles and mantas. These are one of the best diving spots on the planet, so they say. Every season tourists spend thousands of dollars in luxury resorts – located on paradise islands, ancestral tribal lands of Badjao – but most of them never heard about sea nomads.

Two parallel, contrasting worlds: rich tourist industry and illiterate, neglected Badjao community. These worlds rub against each other, yet they rarely meet. Until…



One of those documentaries that boundlessly broaden your horizon.

wirtualna polska

A mythological tale of wonder and water.

dox magazine

'Walking Under Water' is an exquisite and lyrical experience. The grand beauty and awe of cinema.

hotdocs jury

Great balance of form and content and a beautiful message. Composition, atmosphere, light and camera movement at its perfection.

11th Planete doc Jury

'Walking Under Water' is "deeply moving account of human struggle in the natural and spirit worlds".


W błyskotliwym dokumencie Elizy Kubarskiej kamera niczemu się nie dziwi, na bohaterów nie patrzy jak na egzotyczną ciekawostkę, a ich świat - zbudowany z wody, ciszy i głębokich wierzeń - odsłania przed widzem stopniowo.



Walking Under Water is a masterful and lush meditation of an unknown world that reveals a strong humanity while pushing the boundaries of filmmaking.

Palm springs international film festival jury

Bardzo intymne podejście do tematu... film wyróżnił indywidualizm reżyserski i wybitny talent w odwzorowaniu przestrzeni społecznej... Film... jest poetycką pieśnią ku czci morza i życia w zgodzie z naturą.

6th Human Doc Jury

selected festivals

Main awards

Hot Docs, Toronto (Kanada) – Special Jury Prize for International Feature Documentary

Planete+ Doc Film Festival (Polska) – Honorable Mention, Cinematography Competition

Los Angeles FF (USA) – Honorable Mention in Best Feature Documentary

Palm Springs International FF (USA) – John Schlesinger Award

Sarasota Film Festival (USA) – Documentary Feature Award

Cinema Planeta (Mexico) – Honorable Mention

International Wildlife FF (Montana, USA) – Visionary Award

Human Doc Festival (Polska) – Best Polish Film

MAIN festivals



Production: Braidmade Films (UK); cooproduction: Kloos&Co (Germany), Vertical Vision Film Studio & EBH Polska; coofinanced by Polish Film Institute (PISF), Arte/ZDF; duration76 min.  World sales: Rise and Shine.  DVD order from contact page.

We are available with lectures and multimedia show titled “Badjao. Last sea nomads”. About Badjao lifestyle and film “making of”. More photos at David’s gallery soon.