ECOLOGY: Director Renu Savant gives us the opportunity to see the ancestral, small-fishing methods of the men of Mirya on the west coast of India.
Tristen Bakker
Tristen Bakker is a documentarian and editor.
Published date: October 30, 2019


My father fished as a hobby throughout my childhood. He made lures and rods in our basement in Toronto, Canada and on weekends he would take this self-made gear north to our cottage and fish early morning into dusk. I was not overly interested in fishing, but I enjoyed spending time with my father, and I learned some of these techniques not because I was directly trying to, but rather by watching him and asking questions.

Everyman

The men in the village of Mirya on the west coast of India, the place where The Ebb Tide is shot, are teaching and learning in a similar way. Ancestral techniques passed down from father to son over many generations are still being used for survival. The young boys go to school and have dreams of doing other work or creative pursuits. But they often come back to this ancestral way of supporting themselves and their families due to lack of employment and prospects in the «outside» world. The skills are part of their childhood; the life is home to them. In Mirya, these skills are what have kept these people going in times of no other work and no other choice.

This hour-long film shows us small-scale fishing: during monsoon season the water rises and the men are able to capitalise on this by fishing in the high creek waters. Different methods of fishing are shown: hunting for crabs amongst the mangrove trees, night fishing with nets during the high tide, casting from a boat in the waters of the swollen creek. There is not much of an explanation as to which creek we are at or who the men are specifically – the men are presented as archetypes, the everyman in this situation.

As viewers, we are learning by watching just as the boys did from their fathers. And we are being shown a skill that was only taught to the boys of the village. Women have no place in these activities. Indeed there are no women in the film other than the filmmaker herself.

Ancestral techniques passed down from father to son over many generations are still being used for survival.

Early on in The Ebb Tide, director Renu Savant comments that she was …


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