“At the heart of New Jersey, just a few kilometers from New York, a strange landscape unfurls. A fascinating and somewhat scary, almost post-apocalyptic, panorama that seven friends decide to explore following the water. A radical back-to-basics approach to which many city dwellers aspire but few would dare to try.These seven modern young people have decided to keep moving, testing their limits in an ever changing and yet familiar context. For these dreaming adventurers, as much as for the viewer, Back Water is an exceptional journey that is as romantic as it is political.” –Vision Du Reel
“A bunch of city dwellers are planning a nature expedition. But it is not the South Pole or Svalbard that they have set their goals on – more of a strange environment and ruined wasteland of New Jersey. During their ten-day canoeing trip on a river that represents a bleak story of civilization, or perhaps the lack of it , they are forced to confront both toxic industrial waste as the guards who question their purposes of the trips.” –Tempo Documentary Festival
“Au cœur du New Jersey, un étrange paysage se déploie, comme une frontière avec la civilisation : des friches, des hautes herbes, de la boue, des déchets de toutes tailles, parfois toxiques, une rivière qui traverse tout l’État et sept jeunes qui ont choisi de la remonter, à bord de canoës… Une expédition singulière, aussi romantique que politique.” – Film Documentaire
”A strange landscape exists in the middle of New Jersey, made up of wetlands and wildlife migrations, garbage dumps and the ruins of industry, toxic waste sites and a river that tells the story of a civilization’s new frontier. That is what seven young people have chosen to paddle through for 10 days, in canoes… Their singular expedition, as romantic as it is political, is relayed in this exceptional documentary film.” –New Jersey Stage
“The documentary follows seven young people who paddle through the wetlands, wildlife and swampy waters of the iconic Jersey landscape. The screening on Feb. 12 will host director Jonathan Cohrs. “The film is very serene and absolutely beautifully shot,” Nigrin said. “I was shocked at how quiet it was — especially being so close to the NJ Turnpike and Manhattan.” –New Jersey Entertainment Film Festival
“Director Jon Cohrs set out on an unusual journey. What if Lewis & Clark were around today and they explored the Hackensack river? This intriguing documentary takes us on that trip to get an unusual vantage point on both this post-industrial waterway and the post 911 reality in America. Deftly edited “Back Water” takes us along for the ride to explore with the mixed crew of 8. The cook, the trapper, the sound man along with the director and others share the experience.” –Massive Clouds
Director: Jonathan Cohrs
Producers: Jonathan Cohrs, Anne Garrett, Jennilyn Merten
Consulting Producer: Cynthia Lowen
Editing: Anne Garrett, Cynthia Lowen, Jonathan Cohrs
Camera: Derek Hallquist, William O’Mara, Elisa Giardina Papa, Andrea Masu, Jonathan Cohrs
Sound: Patrick Southern, Jonathan Cohrs
Color: Chad Smith
Assistants: Ilpo Heikkinen, Goran Kajan, Kate Bennis, Stephanie Andreou, Leslie Steele
Expedition Crew: Sara Jensen, Nicola Twilley, Patrick Southern, Jonathan Cohrs, Erin Tolman, Derek Hallquist, Gillian Cassell-Stiga, Michael Auerbach, Ryan Van Luit
Score: Kevin O’Connor
Additional Music: Tara Jane O’Neil
Available formats: BluRay disc, Quicktime Pro-Res le, or DCP upon request.
Download Images: PressImages.zip
BACK WATER: In the middle of New Jersey exists a strange landscape of wetlands and wildlife migrations, garbage dumps and the ruins of industry, toxic waste sites and a river that tells the story of a civilization’s new frontier. That is what seven young people have chosen to paddle through for 10 days, in canoes… A singular expedition, as romantic as it is political.
SYNOPSIS: BACK WATER is a thought-provoking and humorous look at the changing nature of wilderness. It follows a group of explorers as they set out on an expedition to a new frontier consisting of toxic waste dumps and abandoned factories. In this swampy wetland just miles from the heart of Manhattan, they work their way south by canoe, paddling past the relics of manufacturing, an Agent Orange remediation site, and the ghosts of the old Penn Station, attempting to survive in an environment where wildlife and industry co-exist.
As the team is confronted by natural elements such as wildfires and flood-tides, and as man-made toxic spills threaten their water supply, each character reveal their unique perspective on their place in this strange new landscape. Like any expedition into the unknown, the explorers are constantly met with surprises: a hunt for an Agent Orange storage site leads instead to poachers trapping turtles; in a world where “natural flavors” are advertised by green pastures and pristine waters, the explorers stumble upon one of the highest concentrations of artificial flavoring and processed food factories in the world. Against this back drop of birds and factories, open sky and highway overpasses, the explorers contemplate the co-existence of mankind and wildlife in our post-industrial world, constantly reminded of the contradictions inherent in such a landscape.