IGS alumnus dives to success

The feature film Descent, by Naysan Baghai (2015), has been selected for the Sydney Film Festival.

Warning: This film is suited for people aged 15+ and must not be exhibited to anyone under 15 years unless accompanied by an adult.

“Thrilling, punishing, and beyond treacherous; freediving in freezing water is not for the faint of heart, but for Kiki Bosch, it was a lifesaver,” the trailer reads.

Descent is Naysan’s first feature film. It tells the fascinating story of ice freediver Kiki Bosch who dives into the world’s coldest waters on one breath, without a wetsuit. It is a triumph over extraordinary challenges to achieve mastery over mind and body in some of the most hauntingly beautiful dive sites on the planet.

The film has also been selected as a finalist for the Documentary Australia Foundation Award!

Naysan is the director, producer, screenwriter, cinematographer and editor of the film.
He filmed for 40 days across four different countries, and the editing process took over 150 days.

It features stunning underwater footage shot by Australian underwater cinematographers Stefan Andrews, Spencer Frost and Peter Lightowler.  

Friend of Naysan and IGS Alumna Kailesh Reitmans composed the beautiful soundtrack to the film.

Naysan visited IGS in 2019, where he shared his passion for scuba diving with students at an assembly.

He said his passion for the ocean began at IGS when he was in Year 2 and again in Year 6 during the Independent Research Task (IRT) undertaken by all IGS Year 6 students.

“When I was at film school, I began training in the colder, rougher waters off the coast of Sydney and diving deeper and longer,” Naysan said.

“I regularly got asked, ‘Why do you do such a crazy thing?’

“The psychological aspect of the question intrigued me as I began meeting some fascinating characters in the dive community.

“One of the people that intrigued me the most was Kiki Bosch (the star of Descent), not only because of her inspiring life story but because of her ability to mentally and physically handle the extreme challenges of diving into subzero waters without the comfort of a wetsuit or oxygen tank. I begin writing the treatment for her story in my final year of film school. After graduating, I launched straight into producing and directing Descent.

“We were lucky to film in many amazing locations in England, Iceland, New Zealand and Australia. The area that enthralled me the most was Milford Sound, in the South Island of New Zealand. The last time I visited this area was in 2012, when I was part of an IGS Music Tour! It was fun to return there nearly a decade later, but this time, venture underwater.

“I also really enjoyed the camaraderie with all of my colleagues, which is not an uncommon thing on film productions, big or small. But ultimately, I think the learning experience that came with throwing myself in the deep end (literally and figuratively) is what really tops the list for me,” he said.

“Shooting in cold water is arguably one of the most challenging types of filming you can possibly do. Communication is limited, intense physical and mental stamina is required for the long days of diving, the diving and lighting conditions are constantly changing, and you’re in water that can be as low as 1°C. Capturing the shots of Kiki we needed was also challenging; because she dives in just her swimsuit, we had to keep her time in the water to a minimum so she wouldn’t get too cold.

“In New Zealand, I had to continually dive up and down to communicate with the scuba divers 15 metres below the surface, and then back up with Kiki, the safety divers and dry crew. It was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done as a freediver, because of how much focus, physical energy and problem solving was required while we were shooting in the near freezing water.”

Naysan said he felt privileged to be accepted by the Sydney Film Festival and to be a finalist for the Documentary Australia Foundation Award.

“Because of COVID-19, this year’s online festival allows audiences across Australia the opportunity to experience many of the features of a traditional festival, safely and conveniently from the comfort of their homes.”

Descent is available for streaming from the Sydney Film Festival Site here. Bonus interviews are included.

View the trailer and find out more.