Poster for Watermarks

Autumn 2005 Main series

Sunday, November 13, 2005 at 4:00pm
Sunday, November 13, 2005 at 7:00pm
Monday, November 14, 2005 at 7:00pm
Monday, November 14, 2005 at 9:30pm

Acadia Cinema's Al Whittle Theatre
450 Main Street, Wolfville, NS

Directed by


Rated NR · 1h 20m
United States
English, German, and Hebrew

Watermarks is the inspiring true story of the champion women swimmers of the legendary Jewish sports club Hakoah Vienna. This poignant account of tribulation and triumph has earned Audience Awards at international film festivals across the United States.

Hakoah (€’The Strength’ in Hebrew) was founded in 1909 in response to the Aryan Paragraph, which prohibited Jewish athletes from participating in Austrian sports clubs. The goal of Hakoah was to dispel the malicious myth that Jews were physically inferior to their Christian counterparts. In the thirties, the club’€™s most renowned achievements came from its women’€™s swim team, who dominated the Austrian national competitions. After Hitler annexed Austria in 1938, the Nazis shut down the club. With their lives increasingly at risk, many athletes were saved by coaches who arranged for illegal passage to Israel, England and the United States.

Sixty-five years later, director Yaron Zilberman meets these remarkable women and organizes a reunion at their old pool in Vienna. In spite of their tragic experiences, they reunite for a healing journey that evokes memories of friendship, fun and a passion to be the best. The film’s power lies not only in the lifelong bonds between them but in the individual stories of these head-strong women, many of whom defied their families to don swim suits and compete in public. One woman describes her refusal to participate in Hitler’€™s 1936 Berlin Olympics and the subsequent erasure of her competitive records and medals.

Zilberman uses extensive archival material in conjunction with these interviews to create an enormously entertaining yet moving documentary. Now in their eighties, many of these women still swim daily; the final scene of the women in their old pool is triumphantly symbolic. Watermarks is a celebration of these outstanding athletes as they age with grace.