She Breathes Water

  • Penny Siopis
  • South Africa
  • 2019
  • 5 min
  • World Premiere
  • Paradocs: Amsterdam Art Weekend at IDFA

The opening shot is of a woman in a swimsuit who seems to be addressing us reproachfully. The closing image is a man with an ironic smile disappearing behind a tree trunk. In the intervening scenes, animals are slaughtered, seas conquered, sacrifices made and raw materials converted into products.

This collage of found footage suggests a story that in turn is disrupted by the poetic subtitles. The stream of images is accompanied by a soundscape of crackling ice—as if the world is slowly breaking apart—which gains an air of solemnity from the recurring chorus of Schubert’s Ave Maria.

Penny Siopis cuts found footage and rearranges it into a warning packaged in symbolism, a parable or a dated form of science fiction. At first sight, the images suggest a romance, but gradually a larger picture emerges: humankind’s destructive relationship with the earth. Despair and reproach compete for precedence in the final sentence: “Can you write a history not all about your might?”


  • 5 min
  • color / black and white
  • DCP
Penny Siopis
Penny Siopis
Penny Siopis
Screening copy

IDFA history

World Premiere
Paradocs: Amsterdam Art Weekend at IDFA

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IDFA history

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