As the Tide Comes In

As the Tide Comes In

Juan Palacios, (Co-Director) Sofie Husum Johannesen & Juan Palacios / Denmark / 2023

The 27 residents of the Danish Wadden Sea island of Mandø experience the forces of climate change in the form of severe weather and the risk of flooding. Still, they stubbornly cling to their identity as islanders, as they have done for generations. 

The 27 residents on the tiny Danish Wadden Sea island of Mandø, are used to severe weather and flooding. Climate change has only made things worse and now it poses a serious existential threat to the eight km2 island. However, its last farmer, Gregers, whose family has lived there for eight generations, hasn’t given up in the face of the impending catastrophe. He refuses to build a life elsewhere and instead hopes to find a wife to manage the farm with him.

As a storm is slowly approaching, Gregers and his faithful dog inspect the obsolete dikes that protect his beloved island. In the meantime, Mie blows out the candles of her 100th-year birthday cake, Ellen and Ingeborg complain about the moon disease they suffer from, birdwatcher Niels laments about the rare birds that don’t come to the island anymore, and tourist guide Preben tells stories about past deadly floods to summer visitors. Despite the new threats from the rising sea, today’s current generation holds on steadfastly to their little part of the world.

The portrait of this microcosm is accompanied by masterfully crafted shots of the distinctive landscape, shifting skies, and seas that change with the wind. In a sense, the grim fate of these islanders, presented in drily humorous situations, will affect us all.