Price: $310.00

    Code: 2438

    Directed by Jeroen van Velzen
    2012, 80 min
    Purchase: $310 | Classroom rental: $125

    A gorgeously filmed ethnographic portrait of an elderly Kenyan shark fisherman who has a primeval bond with the ocean and its creatures, Wavumba: They Who Smell of Fish delivers an enchanting depiction of Africa's storytelling tradition, where fantasy, dreams, belief and reality blend.

    Dutch, Kenyan-raised filmmaker re-immerses himself in the magical stories of his Kenyan childhood. He decides to follow Masoud - known for catching giant sharks with his bare hands—as the legendary fisherman embarks on his last quest. Together with Masoud and his apprentice, director Jeroen van Velzen embarks to sea, rowing for hours as Masoud tells his fish tales. Masoud becomes our guide to fishing techniques, to the flora and fauna of the bounding main, but also to an intangible spiritual world. The journey culminates with a breathtaking exploration of the holy islands, the resting place of the spirits, where knowing the language of the shamans is necessary to ask the spirits for a good catch.

    Together with ritual stories and tales of sea spirits told by villagers and shamans, and gorgeous photography, Wavumba is an intimate, gentle, and respectful account that brings centuries-old traditions to life.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Official Selection, Rotterdam International Film Festival
    * Winner, Best New Documentary Director, Tribeca Film Festival
    * Official Selection, Vision du Reel


    "Evocative sound design and interludes of Kenyan storytellers intoning myths about sea-dwelling spirits and hidden worlds wrap the film in a fantastical, impressionistic gauze.” – Jeremy Egner, The New York Times

    "A high point this year [in the Tribeca Film Festival] is the Dutch film Wavumba, directed by Jeroen van Velzen. In it he returns to coastal Kenya, where he grew up, and meets Masoud, an aged shark fisherman who regales him with tales of his adventures. Although the old man’s powers are failing, he has a primeval bond with the ocean and its creatures.” - Stephen Holden, The New York Times

    "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. Director Jeroen van Velzen succeeds beautifully." - Variety

    "This quiet documentary set in Kenya, following an old fisherman with fading strength, rightly earned director Jeroen van Velzen Tribeca's Best New Documentary Director award.” - Hollywood Reporter

    " Wavumba offers a fascinating glimpse into another world, both at a spiritual and a cultural level.” – Cinemagazine

    " Wavumba stylishly details the fading world of shamans, mythical traditions, and tall tales. However, unlike most films that deal with similar situations from the position of “outsider,” van Velzen’s artful, ethnographic triumph allows the participants to speak for themselves, and what emerges are the transcendent themes of aging, family tensions, and nostalgia for a world that has all too quickly passed away. VERDICT Recommended to fans of cultural studies free from the heavy hand of Hollywood celebrity." —Brian Odom, Birmingham, AL, Library Journal