Documentary Site started as an outlet for my interests in documentary 15 years ago. Since then, my presence has expanded to writing, managing Twitter fans, and connecting with makers, promoters, and fans of documentary. Probably three of the coolest things to come from this endeavor are being invited to write for POV, visiting Kartemquin studios, and leading a discussion after a screening of The Trials of Muhammad Ali. My current project involves watching and writing about 365 documentaries in 2014. Feel free to send along your suggestions via Twitter @documentarysite!

#365Docs: Maidentrip (34/365)

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I’m watching 365 documentaries and writing about each one in 2014. Tweet your suggestions to @documentarysite, or send an e-mail to hmcintosh@documentarysite.com. Read more.

Note: This post may contain spoilers.

Maidentrip invites you to take a sailing voyage around the world with teenager Laura Dekker as she tries to break the world record for being the youngest person to make the journey alone.

Jillian Schlesinger’s 2013 documentary shows Dekker as born to make this trip. Dekker herself was born on a boat and spent five years of her life living on a boat before her parents split. After moving to Holland, she remained deeply connected to and committed to boats. She owned her first seaworthy boat at age 10 and made a solo voyage from Holland to England at age 13.

Despite her depth of experience, Dekker faced challenges in making the trip even though no law specifically stopped her. Courts in Holland attempted to remove her from her father’s custody but eventually failed. The media described her as “spoiled” and “insane,” and one outlet expressed a desire to see her fail. Dekker describes the situation as “the worst kind of famous there can ever be.”

Dekker sets sail without a team or a follow boat, and much of the footage from her journey comes from her own camera. Schlesinger weaves that footage with footage taken by others along the way.

The film guides us through her journey using animated maps that look like watercolor paintings and titles showing her destination. Intertitles mark the miles and days passing, with some periods passing more quickly than others. Dekker stops at beautiful destinations along the way, including St. Maarten, Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Australia, and South Africa.

The trip offers its excitements and its challenges. A major storm and the Torres Strait actually offer some excitement, as does exploring the various countries she visits. The challenges lie more in the long stretches without people and sometimes without wind, though Dekker finds ways of passing the time.

A solo journey that long often brings some soul searching and personal growth. Dekker becomes even more independent in her journey, and she reclaims her connection to New Zealand by switching to sail under its flag instead of Holland’s flag.

Maidentrip does exactly what it sets out to do: Document a young woman’s solo sail around the world. Schlesinger’s documentary uses no tricks to heighten the drama, but instead relies on the ups and downs of seafaring through Dekker’s perspective to keep things interesting.

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Heather McIntosh
Heather McIntosh
Heather McIntosh started Documentary Site as a resource for documentary media and has greatly enjoyed the connections it has fostered over the years.
  • jasellier

    PBS is an acronym for NBC.  The coverage of the RNC is so biased towards the left it might as well be the Chris Mathews Show. Beware PBS, NBC is at the bottom of the ratings ladder.  You depend on donations, but I doubt anyone with any sense would donate based on your RNC coverage