Freediving is diving without any breathing apparatus, relying only on the diver’s lung capacity to stay underwater for incredibly long periods of time. The more extreme form of this is ‘ice freediving’ where participants push their bodies to the limit to freedive in the world’s coldest bodies of water, often well below freezing temperature. However, Descent isn’t really an exploration of the extreme activity itself, but rather tells the story of Kiki Bosch, and benefits hugely from this concise and focussed storytelling.

Descent chronicles Bosch’s journey from inspired youngster to master of her craft; her drive and passion to dive in increasingly cold waters take on a therapeutic position in her life in the wake of trauma and her subsequent depression. The interviews with Bosch’s close friends and family express pride but also worry for a woman they love seemingly pushing her body to its breaking point.

The focus on Bosch rather than the act of ice freediving frees the need for copious explanation of the processes and techniques she uses. It’s briefly discussed, but Bosch’s talent is presented as more of an art than a science; the methods aren’t important, what is important is the emotional inspiration for a skill that requires an obsessive connection to the water and a masterful balance of Zen focus and energy. It’s a moving story of human endeavour with a fittingly icy and sensual original soundtrack by Kailesh Reitmans, coupled with stunning cinematography that could rival Blue Planet.

Descent is a short, poignant and focussed portrait of a woman who finds solace in the extreme. It succeeds by attempting only to tell her tale, eschewing all details that don’t serve the story, and wonderfully capturing an extraordinary life in just over an hour’s runtime.



CAST: Kiki Bosch, Stefan Andrews, Mikael Koski

DIRECTOR: Nays Baghai

WRITER: Nays Baghai

SYNOPSIS: Dutch ice freediver Kiki Bosch swims in the world’s coldest waters without a wetsuit as therapy for a trauma she experienced, and to inspire others.