Germany, UK, Denmark


AQUARELA takes audiences on a deeply cinematic journey through the transformative beauty and raw power of water. Captured at a rare 96 frames-per-second, the film is a visceral wake-up call that humans are no match for the sheer force and capricious will of Earth’s most precious element. From the precarious frozen waters of Russia’s Lake Baikal to Miami in the throes of Hurricane Irma to Venezuela’s mighty Angel Falls, water is AQUARELA’s main character, with director Victor Kossakovsky capturing her many personalities in startling cinematic clarity.

Director's Statement

Looking back, it seems that for my whole life I have been preparing to make AQUARELA. Almost 50 years ago, when I was just four years old, I spent one summer in a small village between Moscow and St. Petersburg. In that village was the source of a river. A man who lived there, Mikhail Belov, said to me, “Imagine Victor, if you made a little boat from wood chip and leaves, then put it in this river, it would float on the water to the North Sea and then around the world.”

I returned to that village 25 years later to shoot my film, BELOVY, which is about the people who live at the source of the river. The first episode was exactly as Mikhail had described to me: I put my camera into a little boat and I made an almost 1,000 km journey from that village to the sea. For this river scene I used a song from one of Raj Kapoor’s films. I had chosen this song, without knowing Hindi, simply because of its powerful energy, which fit well with my river episode. A few years later, and after a screening in India, some people told me that the song is about a river that flows like our lives.

Then, in the year 2000, while editing my film, I LOVED YOU, at Bornholm Island, I stayed in a house with a window looking out on the Baltic Sea. I noticed that the sea was different every day, every hour, even every minute. I was never bored because the water was never the same. I thought that if I could just film the waves from my window during a whole year, I could easily make a great film, without saying a word and without moving the camera, just watching the water changing! Different colours, different movements, different energies … through the natural lens of water you would be able to experience and feel the ebb and flow of all known human emotions — anger, aggression, peacefulness, nobility, loneliness, jealousy … everything!

With AQUARELA, I wanted to film every possible emotion that can be experienced while interacting with water — beautiful emotions, along with unsettling emotions of ecstasy and inspiration, as well as destruction and human devastation.

Director's Biography

Director, writer, cinematographer and editor Victor Kossakovsky is an innovative documentary filmmaker whose films have been honoured with more than 100 awards in national and international festivals. His distinctive filmography spans many different subjects but always explores the interplay of reality and poetic moments.

He began his career in motion pictures in 1978 at the Leningrad Studio of Documentaries as assistant cameraman, assistant director and editor. He studied Screenwriting and Directing at Moscow HCSF from 1986 to 1988. In 1989 he directed his first feature LSEV and then in 1992 his most famous documentary, THE BELOVS. In 2011, Victor's ¡VIVAN LAS ANTIPODAS! was selected as the opening film of the Venice Film Festival.

In many of his films, as with AQUARELA, Victor has served simultaneously as director, editor, cinematographer and writer. He continues to serve as a teacher and mentor to aspiring filmmakers and documentarians globally.

Victor Kossakovsky was born in Saint Petersburg (Leningrad at the time) on 19 July 1961.

2018 - AQUARELA, doc.
2013 - DEMONSTRATION, doc.
2005 - SVYATO, doc.
2003 - I LOVED YOU, doc.
2002 - HUSH, doc.
1999 - WEDNESDAY 07.19.61, short doc.
1998 - PAVEL I LYALA, doc.
1994 - THE BELOVS, doc.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Victor Kossakovsky

Written by: Victor Kossakovsky, Aimara Reques

Produced by: Heino Deckert, Aimara Reques, Sigrid Dyekjær

Cinematography: Victor Kossakovsky, Ben Bernhard

Editing: Victor Kossakovsky, Molly Malene Stensgaard, Ainara Vera

Original Score: Eicca Toppinen

Sound: Alexander Dudarev

Nominations and Awards

  • Documentary Selection 2019