Against The Tide | Film Threat

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW! Against The Tide is a documentary by Sarvnik Kaur telling the tale of two indigenous Koli fishermen, Rakesh and Ganesh, in Bombay.
Rakesh struggles to make ends meet as a small boat fisherman, staying faithful to the traditional Koli way of following the tides. He works hard to provide for his family and his pushy mother, but no matter what comes his way, he strives to stay humble and respect the sea. Ganesh was lucky to study business in the West when he was younger and is living a comfortable life in the city – also thanks to his family’s money. He embraces the modern ways, and he’s driven by profit, even if it means using less than eco-friendly techniques and technologies to catch bigger fish on bigger boats.

A still from Against the Tide by Sarvnik Kaur, an official selection of the World Documentary Competition at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | Photo by Snooker Club Films.

“…struggles to make ends meet as a small boat fisherman, staying faithful to the traditional Koli way…”

Throughout their journeys, they face similar difficulties as demand is increasing, supply is decreasing, bills are piling, global warming is real, and greed is not good; or as Mahatma Gandhi said, “Earth provides enough for everyone’s needs, but not everyone’s greed.” Spanning a few years, we see how rites, family, globalization, and various external factors will test this fisherfolk’s brotherhood and community. But notwithstanding their disagreement on how to fish, how to do business, or what it means to be successful, Rakesh and Ganesh’s bond is a strong one forged in the fearless Koli seamen beliefs.

Engrossing and bewitching Against The Tide is very affecting. Although it does not make a grand declaration about the state of the oceans, India, or the world we are living in, Kaur manages to poignantly and effectively show us how bad things really are. For example, with poetic shots of shoals of garbage floating and continuously being caught in the nets of fishermen in need only to be thrown back in the water where they will eventually end up anyway. These images are depressing enough to make grown men weep (or at least we hope!), and to observe how it impacts almost every aspect of our protagonist’s life is one of the best forms of activism: showing us unquestionable facts without taking a stance.

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