November 24, 2020 She Is The Ocean (Documentary Review)
We live in unprecedented times. Within a generation the world has changed for women, and more and more people are realizing the responsibility of the stewardship of our planet – a planet called “the blue planet” because its surface is covered with 71 percent water. Uniting these two ideas in the 2018 documentary She is the Ocean, Filmmaker Inna Blokhina explores the relationship of nine accomplished women and the oceans they love. “A woman is like the ocean: a force of nature with depths unknown,” begins the visually stunning exploration. Initially released to select theaters and virtual cinemas on October 16, 2020, She Is The Ocean now makes its way to VOD on November 24th thanks to In Waves Production Company.
Near the beginning of the film, 12-year-old Cinta Hansel, a Balinese girl, learns to surf with the guidance of her father. Throughout the film, Cinta (whose name means “love”) works toward her aspiration – to surf the big waves of the pipeline, compete, and become world champion. First, though, she must master her own fears.
She’s not alone. Keala Kennelly, a professional surfer says, “To be fearless is to be ignorant, not brave.” To face the fear is bravery. Like Cinta, Keala spent most of her formative years in the ocean. The middle child in a family of boys, Keala admired the “macho” male surfers. She aspired to not only surf and compete, but to also be respected in the male-dominated sport. Early in her career, sponsors asked her to soften her look and be more feminine. However, something about that felt horrible and false. “You have to be true to yourself. That’s how you respect yourself. That’s how you earn respect,” she notes. So she cut her hair and proceeded in a genuine fashion, and went on to win the WSL “Barrel of the Year” award in 2016, and eventually became World Champion.
Coco Ho, another professional surfer, says of the sea, “Everything was connecting and making sense to me.” She follows in her father’s footsteps as she surfs not only her Hawaiian home’s waves, but also competes worldwide. Meanwhile, German cliff diver Anna Bader incorporates elegance into her cliff diving. When she first began she was treated like a novelty, a filler between the male competitors. In 2005, she competed for the first time, and she was the only woman.
Andrea Moller, a big wave surfer and open sea paddler, describes women as multi-taskers. She looks for challenges, and like so many women in the documentary, water was a part of her life since childhood. The film’s iconic cover image stems from her paddling with a whale nearby. “In the sea, I have a moment for self. Silence,” she confesses, Although she introduced her daughter to her love of the sea, Moller’s teen finds horses suit her more than the ocean. “Kids love things how they love them. I support her,” explains Moller, who also works as an EMT.
Jeanne Chesser’s husband and son both shared her affinity for the water, and tragically they both died, her son while surfing. While she mourned, Jeanne was diagnosed with a rare disease. Her treatments left her weak and bald, but she found healing in the water.
Ocean Ramsey, “The Woman of Sharks,” seeks to replace fear of sharks with fascination and information. Her conservation-based science introduces people to the wonders of the misunderstood ocean predator. Similarly, dancer and diver Rose Molina describes facing fears, such as her concern about diving deeper in the ocean, as a transformation after which the universe opens. She feels safe in the water, as it reminds her of a mother’s embrace. “I never stop dancing,” she explained. In the footage of her in the water, she indeed dances. She feels the sea as a feminine energy, loving and caring: “It’s what the world needs now. More feminine energy. More love.”
Scientist Sylvia Earl feels the oceans should be accessible to all and she encourages exploration. During her TED talks, she explains the changes in the oceanic world; such as the fact that here are fewer squid and more plastic. Many species have been exterminated, and although many are threatened or endangered, she finds it “impossible to give up hope” when “miracles are everywhere.” She implores “the highest priority is to keep the planet safe.” She encourages everyone to concentrate on choices to protect the waters.
With haunting music throughout, the 98 minute-long film also features from breathtaking cinematography. Ebbing and flowing like waves over the sand, it jumps between the biographies to present women at one with their love of and respect for the ocean and its denizens. Already winning many awards, including the Audience Winner at the Maui Film Festival and won Best Documentary at the LA Femme International Film Festival in 2018, She Is The Ocean is simply an inspiring tale of the human spirit. That is why of Cryptic Rock gives this delightful documentary 4 out 5 stars.