Jonas Bak’s feature grows from the intimate domestic sphere to the overwhelming grandeur of world stages without ever losing sight of its central figure. In Germany’s Black Forest region, Anke is fresh into her retirement and looking forward to a family holiday; however, her son Max cancels last minute as he is involved in the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. His mother changes her plans, flying halfway around the world and trading in trees and rolling hills for endless high rises and obscured sunsets. Here, nothing makes sense, and as she searches to understand her son Anke, she realises that she might not fully understand herself.

Wood and Water never leaves Anke’s perspective. She is a stoic, silent witness to the world, but as Anke Bak’s magnificent performance unfolds, this persistent eye captures the small doubts that fracture her knowledge of the world. She grows out of this shell organically and through interaction with the people she meets in her travels – a doctor, an activist, a fortune teller, and the concierge of her hotel. The words rarely go beyond the superficial in the beginning, but the unsaid uncertainties are clear, and when Anke finally can give voice to her fears they feel organic rather than contrived.

The script’s exploration of depression and anxiety across ages and cultures proves especially moving, as the language Anke uses and accepts about her mental health reveals her growing comprehension and acceptance of a life she has not made space for until now. It is a refreshing perspective that emphasises ever-changing, never-ending survival and solace in fellow humans.

Wood and Water casts a sympathetic eye across trans-continental family bonds, growing older, and finding connection in an increasingly chaotic world. Here the inevitable, the uncontrollable, and the senseless prove common ground for kindness and discovery rather than alienation.



CAST: Anke Bak, Ricky Yeung, Alexandra Batten, Patrick Lo, Theresa Bak, Susanne Johnssen, Lena Ackermann, Christel Johnssen, Patrick Shum, Edward Chan


WRITER: Jonas Bak

SYNOPSIS: When her son cancels his holiday due to the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, his mother travels solo across the world to see him, facing her own inner demons in the process.