Giovanni and the Water Ballet @ RIDM

giovanni and the water ballet2Women are often used to being outnumbered by men.  This happens in business, politics, music festivals, sports, and a whole bunch of other areas.  It does not happen that often to men.  How they handle it is something that has not been addressed that much in the film world.  Here comes Dutch director Astrid Bussink to fill that void.


Giovanni is a 10-year-old boy who dreams of being the first boy on the Dutch synchronized swimming championships wanting to be part of the team in the Dutch National Championships.  Soccer and karate, more typical sports for young boys, hold no interest for him.  He has been at it for four years and has just one more exam to do before he can realize it.  That exam is a mere four weeks away and that month is what is covered in the film.  Practice involves him increasing his flexibility, learning routines and always being surrounded by girls and women.


His choice of sport has led to him really being teased at school, but he has never strayed from his course.  Not everyone is supportive of what Giovanni is trying to accomplish.  It demonstrates that men have to deal with sexism as well.


Even his girlfriend Kim (they are going steady!) is involved in his pursuit.  They talk about competitions and that if he manages this it will be quite an accomplishment.  Normal pre-pubescent conversations are also captured like the hilarious one about the list of girls he has to go out with after Kim.  Priceless!  Interesting to hear what 10-year-old think about live, dreams and the future.


In a documentary of this sort it takes a particular touch from the director.  Bussink shows herself capable of having a very light touch when it comes to creating a portrait of a very particular 10-year-old boy.  She backs away when required and just lets Giovanni shine through.  The result is some heartwarming and funny moments.  Though to accentuate the emotion involved in and scale of what he is trying to do she adds in some heartstring pulling music and great cinematography.  The underwater stuff is especially good.


Giovanni is a young boy who is comfortable surrounded by girls and yet he is shown to still be an outsider being often isolated. The four week odyssey and slice of this young person’s life is ably portrayed in a mere 18 minutes.  After watching this short documentary I doubt there will be anyone who is not encouraged to go after their dreams.

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