In Wagu, a fishing village on the Ise Peninsula, Matsumi, Mayumi and Masumi dive everyday not knowing what they'll find. Underwater, their delicate bodies turn into those of sea hunters. The Ama-San have been diving like this for over 2000 years. There's both extraordinary strength and glowing merriment at the heart of Ama-San. The film's gentle style and gorgeous cinematography describes a community of women—the oldest of whom is pushing into her 80s—with much singing, conversation and riotous laughter. 

A film of intimate beauty, Cláudia Varejão's Ama-San depicts three generations of Ama—Matsumi, Mayumi and Masumi. Women from the Ise peninsula in Japan, they continue a 2000 year old tradition, free-diving for pearls, abalone and shell-fish. Harvesting their catch with a knife, and recognisable by the white linen scarves protecting their heads from the sun, this a world away from the industrial scale fishing we're familiar with seeing portrayed on screen.

With breathtaking underwater sequences at sea, combining with the warm light of home and dockside camaraderie, there's both extraordinary strength and glowing merriment at the heart of Ama-San. The film's gentle style and gorgeous cinematography describes a community of women—the oldest of whom is pushing into her 80s—with much singing, conversation and riotous laughter. 

Cláudia Varejão

Cláudia Varejão was born in Porto, Portugal and studied film in the Artistic Creativity and Creation Program offered by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, alongside the German Film und Fernsehakademie Berlin, and in São Paulo’s International Film Academy. She also studied photography at AR.CO, in Lisbon. She directed the documentary short film Wanting and the fictional short film trilogy Weekend, Cold Day, and Morning Light. In the Darkness of the Theater I Take off My Shoes is her first feature film. Her most recent film is Ama-San. Besides working as a director, she has carved a path in photography.

Filmography

In the Darkness of the Movie Theatre I Take Off My Shoes (2016), Ama-San (2016), Morning Light (2012), Cold Day (2008), Weekend (2007), Wanting (2005)