The Art of Subtle
Leo Kaserer’s passion for the sea is infectious. Having spent many, many hours fishing with him in Cawsand Bay and beyond, its was clear to me this Austrian has a deep respect for nature, going back way beyond his first encounter with his fishing guru and mentor. I never saw Leo as a conservationist though, I couldn’t imagine him at a demonstration waving a placard, probably because he enjoys the bounty of the sea as much as any land locked countryman.
I suppose we all care and protest in our own ways.
I met people who don’t use plastic. At all.
Others who use art to spread their message.
Plenty that wouldn’t eat an animal. Sea or land.
Leo is subtle in his views, subtle but effective. His passion and care for the ocean and its creatures has rubbed off on me and countless young people who have been apart of his EU Ruckenwind programmes - residential projects that focus on community, fishing, sustainability and the environment.
Reflecting back to our time together stuck it a small boat, at times being more intimate than I would prefer, I have to admit he is an unlikely rebel, especially for an Austrian; apart of the counter culture of his day, leaving his home in the mountains of Triol to work as a traditional fisherman for 6 years in Kingsand and Cawsand.
It started a friendship with one of the last remaining traditional fisherman in the area, if not the whole of the Cornwall. Malcolm still works out of Cawsand, fishing with the tool and techniques passed down form generations before. He is no doubt Leo’s mentor and the protagonist of our documentary film Last Fisherman.
In a small way the film deals with the issues of conservation. We contrast two distinct styles of fishing, the new and the old, touching on aspects of commercialism and the future of the industry. In our story the message is subtle, just like Leo, but not too subtle too get lost. The films respect for the sea came to the attention of the International Ocean Film Festival based in San Francisco. A festival Leo was keen to be apart of for obvious reasons. Not a big festival such as HoF, yet equally as important in our minds.
This was Leo’s ( and my own) chance to connect with his tribe, people who see the world a little more like him.
The festival is located in San Francisco bay, at the Fort Mason Piers, overlooking iconic attractions such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Its in its 14th year, and currently directed by Ana Blanca, supported by a wide array of volunteers - all equally as passionate about the sea and its creates.
The festival had a focus on scientific films, stories with strong messages, statics and a healthy does of science. Also films about specific animals, sharks being especially popular. Then their was the hugely popular surfing programme.
I have to confess I was a little embraced, being surrounded by hugely passionate and talented people, and here was our film about the last fisherman of Rame. Made for many reasons but none of them to save the planet, change opinions or influence.
However, what surprised me the most was the power of subtle. The film found an audience here in San Francisco. An audience who didn’t need the science, the celebrities or the facts and figures. What they needed was a connection; a connection to a person that these issues effect directly. To witness his life and feel his pain. Despite the cultural and geographical distances, common ground was found. The issues Leo stands up against in his own way, issues Malcolm faces day to day, are not limited to a quite peninsula in the north of Cornwall. They are a microcosm of a much wider issues faced by everyone who lives and works on the sea.
It was a humbling experience. The film was so well received that we were given the Costal Cultural Award despite some fierce competition within the category. It took Leo an hour to leave the theatre after the screening, he really found his tribe of people in San Francisco.
Both Leo and I couldn’t be more grateful and more thankful to have taken part. So thanks again IOFF.
Who would have thought our subtle film would take us so far?