Director: Ali Weinstein
Naiad Procutions/Sphinx Productions/Films We Like
Mermaids – a subculture, a fetish – this film looks at the talent required (synchronised swimming) and attention to detail with costuming. It looks too at the people behind the mermaid-fascination. Just as you think it’s all getting a bit, er, watery – we find the human interest angle, the stories with heart – and if we’re not always given a direct reason we get to see in behind the tail; here are people fascinated with being not just someone else but something else and this story treats them and their story in the most human/humane way.
From the hours spent making and maintaining the perfect costumes to the different type of work available, gruelling or the hobbyist joy (sometimes it’s both) Ali Weinstein is sympathetic to her subject always. She manages to capture some real kooks too – and in most cases we’re talking about the people connected to the mermaids, rather than the women transforming themselves.
Weird? Absolutely. Tender? Utterly.
Mermaids is light and charming. But with just enough of a dig to provide the universal human interest tropes – as well as being, no doubt, a validation for those involved or interested with this strange phenomenon.
Mermaids is part of this year’s Documentary Edge Festival in New Zealand. The festival’s films screen in Wellington May 9-20 and in Auckland May 23-June 4.