Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival


As the Tide Comes in

The puddle-dotted sandy plain is accompanied by the rustle of wind-wielding hay on top of the dunes, and somewhere in the heights, the birds are calling. The place is Mando Island in the Wadden Sea of Denmark’s southwest coast, which is known for its tidal lowlands and wetlands. The nature of the area is unique, and it has been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Mando’s last farmer and the youngest resident Gregers dreams of finding love, but on the island of 27 residents, the potential partners are a lost resource, and moving to the mainland is not an option. Thus, Gregers decides to apply for the Danish version of The Farmer Wants a Wife reality show. Meanwhile, Mie, who has lost his son to the tides, is approaching the honourable age of 100 years, and in the tiny grocery store, a few residents ponder why the full moon causes insomnia. The film shows mundane moments on the island, which vary from utterly hilarious to deeply poignant.

However, looming in the background of the island’s easygoing lifestyle is a deep concern of the future. Climate change and rising sea levels resulting from it are tangibly visible on the island. The bird species are declining in number, storms are intensifying, and water is constantly taking over more and more of the the eight square kilometre island. Before long, the situation compels the residents to mull over whether they have a future on the island. Even though the maritime environment poses a threat to them, it is their home, and they are holding onto it tenaciously. Water on the land can always be pumped back to the sea, and a storm raging outside is easily forgotten, when you play some bingo with a bunch of friends.

As the Tide Comes in brings the reality of Mando tangibly close with its brilliant cinematography. One can almost smell the sea while watching the film. The island’s ruggedly beautiful nature, its history and the residents’ stories along with the surrounding sea intertwine into a warm depiction of an endangered island and its residents’ love for their home.

Sabriina Hietaniemi

Sofie Husum Johannesen is present in the screening of her film As the Tide Comes in on Fri, Feb 2.

Original Title: Før Stormen
Language: Danish
Subtitles: English
Length: 89 min
Age Limit: K7
Year: 2023
Production Country: Denmark

Director: Juan Palacios, Sofie Husum Johannesen (co-director)
Producer: Kasper Lykke Schultz
Production Company: Elk Film
Screenplay: Juan Palacios
Editing: Nicolas Nørgaard Staffolani
Cinematographer: Juan Palacios
Music: Morten Svenstrup
Sound Design: Peter Albechtsen