Water Child

  • Katelyn Rebelo, Kira Dane
  • United States, Japan
  • 2019
  • 15 min
  • World Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Short Documentary

In Japanese there’s a specific word for an unborn life: mizuko, which means “water child,” is used for both miscarried and aborted pregnancies. In addition to the word, there’s a dedicated ritual accompanied by Buddhist figurines that represent the interrupted life and, like a grave, have their own place.

The narrator’s voice belongs to a Japanese-American woman who grew up in New York. She tells the story of her abortion, and reflects on the carefree summers she spent in Japan during childhood and young adulthood, and on how life and death are seen there.

Visually, this personal account of her time in New York is told through Super 8mm footage and stop-motion animation, while her memories of Japan are accompanied by colorful and fluid watercolor drawings. These two separate worlds are brought together by her voice, switching between Japanese and English, and the soothing sound of water in the background.


  • 15 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: English, Japanese
  • Subtitles in: English
Katelyn Rebelo, Kira Dane
Katelyn Rebelo for One Eyed Productions, Kira Dane for One Eyed Productions
Executive producer
Amy Hobby for Tribeca Film Institute
Tribeca Film Institute
Katelyn Rebelo

IDFA history

World Premiere
IDFA Competition for Short Documentary

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IDFA history

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