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By Water

Director: Iyabo E

United States, 2022, 13 min

Shooting Format:Animation

Festival Year:2023


Crew:Writers: Iyabo Kwayana, Alaf Kwayana, Luther Clement Lam. Producers: Maori Karmel Holmes, Chris Hastings, Nevo Shinaar.


By Water, was initiated through an unexpected voicemail message my brother left me 3 years after his disappearance. I saved this voicemail for more than three years before I decided to heed its instructions.

Running with the idea my brother left on my voicemail, I decided to “complete the story” and continued to write the narrative, picking up where my brother left off and invoking a character based on my estranged brother as the hero of the story and then taking him on an adventurous and healing journey. Through the narrative encounters with the physical spaces of his past juxtaposed with audio accounts from our family members recalling important memories and wishes for my brother’s well being, this transformative journey culminates in catharsis for our hero.

About the director

My career spans from serving as director of photography for fic@on films, to director or (co)cinematographer for award-winning documentaries, to directing and editing archival experimental films that leverage minstrel imagery to NASA footage to articulate personal trauma and catharsis. My work has recently been acquired by the Criterion Channel (July 2021) and World Channel-PBS and my newest work makes history as the first experimental animation slated to be broadcast on POV-PBS and American Documentary’s televised series “America Reframed” (premiere date forthcoming). On the festival circuit, my work has also screened widely both domestically and internationally. Building on past love of mixed media practices, my newest areas of research combine transmedia practices with storytelling and experimental and participatory film and media making approaches.

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