From the duo who brought us the stunning Uppercut earlier this year, comes Aquadettes: a short documentary about Margo Bouer, whose struggle with Multiple Sclerosis is eased by synchronised swimming (and some illicit drugs on the side). Bouer’s outlook on the world is alarming clear-headed and positive given her situation, but she makes the most of the time she has left through doing one activity that—at 74— her body will still allow her to do.

The group she swims with call themselves the Aquadettes and comprise a group of elderly women wanting to maintain their mobility, and therefore their independence, while making friends in the process. According to the centre that hosts their weekly meet-ups:

“As you can imagine, regular practice of synchronized swimming is a great way to maintain health and strength — and a great way to meet active and fun women! We have many members who have had arthritis, joint replacements, and other health challenges — and they stay active with the Aquadettes”

The rewards and experience of life as an Aquadette are contrasted here with Bouer’s painful home life. She relies on medical marijuana to help ease her chronic nausea as a result of her MS and worries about what the future holds, especially regarding her family. Worries that afflict many elderly people are vocalised here by Bouer in one of the most affecting portraits of old age we’ve come across. Bringing humanity and complexity to the aging process, directors Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari have created something truly impressive.

Aquadettes is a part of their ongoing California Is A Place project, which aims to create a series of video portraits of the diverse and expansive state. It is well at home in the series and we can’t wait to see what comes next from a duo who have brought us such marvelous work.