a film by Nele Dehnenkamp


Germany | 2020 | 16:00 min

Content Categories

Documentary Children film Short film
Five years ago, Hanan would never have dreamed that she would now be a swimming teacher. Fleeing IS from northern Iraq, in 2015 she crossed the Mediterranean with her family in a rubber dinghy. The boat filled with water, and Hanan couldn’t swim.

She has an instant understanding with children who are afraid of water. Images of the vast blue sea and the fear of drowning are etched into her memory. Now living in Wolfsburg, Germany, she’s determined to have her younger brother learn to swim before his painful memories of the water rise to the surface, she says in an on-camera interview, as we follow her timid brother in the pool.

The seahorse in the title refers not only to the creature that remains upright in the water, but also to the area of our brain, the hippocampus, where our memories are stored. This balanced documentary shows how water can take on a new meaning over time, and how swimming has become Hanan’s way of coping with trauma.

“The magnificent cinematographic aesthetics create a convincingly poetic connection between the sound and the images. The film conveys the oppressive duality of water as a medium of happiness and doom. Seepferdchen gives the protagonist space to illustrate the traumatic effects of flight and how a young person can confront these experiences.” (Jury CIVIS Media Prize)
DOK Leipzig Kids DOK
IDFA Kids & Docs
Visions du Réel Media Library, Nyon

42 FF Max Ophuels Preis
CIVIS Media Prize
15. Fünf Seen Filmfestival
Cast and Crew
  • Director Nele Dehnenkamp
  • Producer Christine Duttlinger, Nele Dehnenkamp
  • Director of Photography Tobias Winkel, Sina Diehl
  • Editor Jana Briesner
  • Sound Johann Meis, Simon Droessler
  • Compositing Jana Irmert
  • Sound Design Johann Meis
  • Score Paul Chriske
Original Languages


Production Company
Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg GmbH
Akademienhof 10, 71638 Ludwigsburg

Phone: +49 7141 9690
Links / Reference
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