SXSW 2013: ‘The Other Shore’ Review


Film Pulse Score

DIRECTED by                                                    Film Pulse Score: 7/10

The Other Shore tells the harrowing and emotional story of Diana Nyad, a marathon swimmer who set out to traverse from Cuba to Florida non-stop, without the aid of a shark cage.  Thirty years ago she made this attempt, but it was unsuccessful and now, at age 62, she’s decided to give it another go.  This documentary from director Timothy Wheeler is an intensely engaging and inspirational tale of endurance and dedication.

Though the film focuses on the preparation and actual execution of the swim itself, it also explores the past of Diana as a person and sheds a light on what made her the world famous swimmer that she is today.  Through interviews with Diana and her colleagues, we get to know her more as person rather than just an outstanding athlete.

We also discover that it was through her traumatic upbringing that Diana was able to dedicate so much of her life to swimming, and use the act of long distance swimming as a therapeutic escape. Many of us have hobbies or activities we like to use to escape the drudgeries of life, but Diana’s unwavering dedication is something of an anomaly.

Not only does she currently hold the world record for marathon swimming, but even attempting the 110 mile trek through shark infested waters, at 62 years old no less, is truly remarkable. Watching this will surely make most viewers question what they’ve accomplished with their lives and, unintentionally, make most of us think we’re lazy slobs.

Wheeler manages to take footage of someone swimming for hours on end and weave it into something that’s both visually pleasing, and entertaining.  Aside from the interviews, the bulk of the film is shot vérité style, with cameramen positioned in boats and in the water.  It’s the water shots that prove to be the most interesting, but this isn’t a film that’s designed to excel on a visual level.  This is a film that’s here to tell an incredible story and to that, it exceeds.

This is a story that begged to be a documentary. It’s a testament to human endurance and what we can all do if we give it our all. More than that, it teaches us that we shouldn’t get discouraged and we shouldn’t give up on our dreams.  All these seem like clichéd ideas, but when they’re applied using such an amazing true story, everything felt genuine and truly inspirational.

The Other Shore is not a film that would only be recommended for swimmers or fans of sports docs.  It’s a technically sound documentary that provides a gripping story that will certainly garner universal appeal. Diana Nyad is a truly fascinating person and we can all be thankful that people like her and documentaries like this exist.