There are many high profile documentaries, about very important subjects, playing at this year’s Hot Docs films festival. These films typically get the most attention and coverage. However, Hot Docs also features small hidden gems, with heart-warming personal stories. Jillian Schlesinger’s Maidentrip is one of those hidden gems and I am quite happy that this film entered my radar. Laura Dekker is a Dutch teenager with a dream. She wants to be the youngest person to single-handily sail around the world. Born in New Zealand, while her parents were on a similar trip, Laura spent much of her life on the sea and actually found herself enjoying sailing more than school. Her aspirations actually attracted quite a bit of controversy, as the Dutch government tried to stop her from going on the trip. However, the Dutch court ruled in Laura’s favour and she began her two year journey August 2010, at the age of 14.
The whole film is essentially a video log of Laura’s journey. She travelled 100% unaccompanied, so all the footage was shot by Laura herself. Because of all the, mostly handheld, camerawork in the film, there is the chance that the film may cause some mild motion sickness for the viewer. Laura shows great personality in the film and is very much a teenager. As the film goes on, Laura begins to enjoy her independence and even contemplates spending the rest of her life at sea. The film utilizes an on-screen animated map to track the overall progress of Laura’s journey. Sailing around the world can be a very difficult task, with one having to cope with terrible storms and equally terrible calm. However, Laura shows herself to be more than capable of meeting these challenges. There is one moment in the film, where Laura spent nearly a month on the Indian Ocean, with little to no wind. However, this isolation didn’t bother Laura at all and she in fact considered the lack of time to be the best feeling. Laura makes many stops over the course of her journey, where she resupplies and takes in the sights. There is one scene in the film of Laura scuba-diving, which showed some absolutely beautiful sea life. Laura also received constant media attention about her trip, even though she didn’t care too much for speaking with the journalists, who interviewed her. As a whole, Maidentrip is one highly enjoyable coming-of-age story. Over the course of her two year journey, Laura Dekker grows as a person in so many ways and finds her calling in life. The film can be viewed as a positive message for young people, since it shows that it is quite possible to live out your dreams and that you should never give up on trying to make them happen.10 | LOVED IT