Atlantic. by Dutch director Jan-Willem van Ewijk is in competition this year’s East End Film Festival. Fettah is a Morroccan fisherman whose passion for windsurfing is only matched by his longing for the distant European shores. There is something reminiscent of a modern-day Ulysses and the strong lyricism is only befitting the love/hate relationship between man and nature, Fettah and the Ocean.
One fateful summer, Fettah (Fettah Lamara) is visited by fellow surfer friend Jan (the director van Ewijk) and his wife Alexandra (Thekla Reuten), who is both a temptress and unattainable. When she leaves to head back home to Europe, Fettah decides to embark on a epic journey – his dream to reach the much-yearned continent. However, like for any other dream, sacrifices must be made. In Fettah’s case, that means leaving behind his ageing father, his cousin and young Wittal, for whom he is like a father figure. In his many crossings along the African coast, Fettah comes in contact with many different cultures, different realities and fellow surfers from around the world. The spark to set sail, explore and see more is very much alive in him so, in the end, he sets off to undertake his perilous solo voyage…
It is difficult to summarise a film like Atlantic. in a few words. The plot is somewhat elusive and we mostly get glimpses of Fettah’s everyday life, his travels and the people he cares about. This episodic structure is tied together by Fettah’s own voice – often poetic and reminiscent of the past. The cinematography by Jasper Wolf is both mesmerising and engrossing, especially when capturing the sweeping vastness of the sea, and Fettah flying above its waves like an ant among titans. The soundtrack matches this lyric feel which pervades the entire film and Fettah Lamara is a magnetic presence on the screen. We wondered what the full stop at the end of the title meant – is that a signifier of Fettah’s ultimately impossible dream? Whatever the meaning, Atlantic. is as much a lyrical film as it is visceral, for it deals with such primordial desires of the human kind – the desire to go beyond, to reach over one’s shore and to defy nature. So, if on one hand it lacks in plot, on the other it abounds in strong cinematic feelings we very much enjoy.
Atlantic. will screen at the East End Film Festival on July 12th, 3.30pm. For more info visit: www.eastendfilmfestival.com