“I am miserable out of the water,” he says early on, setting a tone in stark contrast with the convivial Jacques Cousteau we might recall from TV interviews or one of his many documentaries. But as the explorer, inventor, and filmmaker brought millions on a journey to discover the “silent world” below the ocean surface, he also undertook a probing journey of his own. Becoming Cousteau presents a man in search of equilibrium, with all his contradictions laid bare: family obligations versus obsessive work, fantastic vision against hard realities, and the transition from big-oil exponent to passionate conservationist. That essential arc between aficionado and advocate is at the core of this deeply researched and exquisitely edited film. Director Liz Garbus (All In: The Fight for Democracy, MVFF 2020) comprehends both the man and the legacy; perhaps Cousteau’s greatest gift, on full display here, was his way of raising awareness not through fear but with wonder. –Edward Dunn
Liz Garbus was nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar® for her feature debut The Farm: Angola, USA (1998). She has gone on to a prolific career as a director and producer. Among her films are Girlhoold (2003), Bobby Fischer Against the World (2011), and the Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015).