Under the SurfaceGuido Verelst

Anne is 33, she dreams of living underwater as a mermaid. She has ASD and a visual impairment. Underwater, she is free and happy, removed from the hustle and noise of everyday life. Above water, however, it is not as simple for her to live independently. Slowly she finds her way in life, together with her boyfriend who happens to look a lot like Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid.

Guido Verelst filmed his own niece Anne for more than three years. During that time, Anne starts a relationship and works her way to independence. However, she prefers to be underwater. From an early age, water attracted her: bathtubs, swimming pools, you name it. She can swim surprisingly well and is able to hold her breath for as much as 3 minutes and 40 seconds: a real mermaid.

In her daily life, her visual impairment and ASD come into play. Medication her grandmother took years earlier caused her to be born prematurely. As a result, Anne's life turned out differently than expected. Consequently, her relationship with her boyfriend raises some additional questions: can he take on the care her parents provide? To what extent can she continue without them? 

Getting through to the real Anne is not always easy with a camera crew, which is why she also keeps a video diary. She's most herself underwater: there she feels like someone else, a superhero with no boundaries or obligations.

This film is part of...

Belgian selection

DOCVILLE presents the best Belgian documentaries of the past year in a very varied selection: compelling stories about people who live for their passion, whether it be cycling, circuit riding or mermaids, but also socially probing stories about illegal adoption, the dangers of criticism under Putin, the link between jazz and decolonization or the abominable conditions in Vorst prison. Finally, there are also films with a more philosophical angle on the transience of the human body or the impact of imaging. The best film may call itself the winner of the Jury Prize for Best Belgian Documentary.

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The screening of 23.03 will be followed by an Q&A with the director


Directed by Guido Verelst
2024 75 min.
Dutch, French
Subtitles: English


Belgian selection


Guido Verelst


Maarten Schmidt

Production company



Marc Van Acker


Geert Veuskens


Dez Mona

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(beschikbaar vanaf 20.03)