The short film gives an insight into the life of three courageous women from three generations in Zanzibar. Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous state of Tanzania and almost 100% Muslim. Although many of the women work on algae farms in the water at a young age, religious authorities believe that they are not allowed to learn to swim. Algae are rich in agar and carrageenan, very popular with the food and cosmetics industries and thus an important source of income for the population. Supported by the NGO Panje, the women fight for girls and women to be allowed to take part in swimming lessons. Because of their Muslim beliefs, they wear so-called burkinis. Empty water canisters serve as swimming rings, with which you can float in the water and learn to swim. A small team consisting of Steve Won (director), Jonas Schneider (DoP) and Simon Peter (sound) accompanied the events on site for 14 days. One of the challenges was to win the trust of the women and girls of the conservative Muslim community so that they could film them in the water. The concept was developed in close cooperation with Rocket Film, which was also responsible for the entire production. In addition, Rocket Film supported the financing so that the project could even be realized. The return trip was an adventure in itself. The film was shot analog on 16 mm Kodak film. At the security check the film cans should be opened resp. scanned with outdated X-ray machines, which would have destroyed all of the footage. Only after they had jointly agreed to let the security officers feel the content in a completely darkened room, the films could pass the control unharmed. Incidentally, Steve Won was inspired for “Panje” by the American photographer Anna Boyiazis, who accompanied the swimming lessons with a camera and won the World Press Photo Awards 2018 for her pictures.
STEVE, born 1988 in Germany finished his Bachelor of Arts in Business Informatics where he worked for more than one year as Business Consultant in the IT world of SAP. To fulfill his dream of making films and telling stories he quit his well-paid and safe job to studying film at the Film Academy in Baden Württemberg. His burning ambition and power of endurance have brought him a lot of success, especially in the dance film industry in a very short time. He already led various Hip Hop Film projects in New York, Houston, Paris, Metro Manila, Rom, Berlin, Zurich and other places around the world. In 2014, he started creating a documentary about the impact of Breakdance in the slums of Manila, Philippines, where he lived and worked with gangs in urban slums for his film. In 2015, he got hired by the legendary Breakdance Crew FLYING STEPS (Red Bull Flying Bach / Red Bull Flying Illusion) to create a documentary about their heartbreaking life story. 2016 Steve got an sponsorship by the BADEN WÜRTTEMBERG STIPENDIUM FOR FILMPRODUCTION to deepen his skills in cinematography at the LA FÈMIS film school in Paris.