Borneo. Somewhere on the edge of the Sulu and Celebes Seas lives a tribe of ocean nomads: the Badjao. They live like fish, spending most of their life in water. Their children learn to swim before they can walk, and adults have mastered the art of free diving to perfection. They can walk and hunt on the sea bed holding their breath for five minutes and their eyes are adapted to focus underwater. They are happy people in the beautiful underwater world.
This could be our story twenty years ago, but it is not any more. Today, the Badjao are pushed to extinction by modern civilisation. They have become strangers on their own waters with no IDs, no citizenship and no money. We call them illegal immigrants.
10-year-old Sari and his uncle Alexan, the last Badjao compressor diver from Mabul island, set out to sea. Alexan teaches Sari dangerous fishing techniques and he shares with him his wisdom and a lifetime experience as a Badjao. “Walking Under Water” is a story about the growing up of a little boy and his friendship with an experienced fisherman, who wants to pass on his skills. Alexan cannot come to terms that the world as he knows it and that of his ancestors is over. Sari has to find his path in life in the changing world.
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