Johanna Under The Ice - NOWNESS from NOWNESS on Vimeo.

“My leg was so badly broken, they thought I might lose it.”

So begins this visually hypnotizing short documentary by British director Ian Derry. Surrounded by monochromatic arctic landscapes, we follow Finnish diver Johanna Nordblad through snow-covered pine forests to the middle of a frozen lake. As she slowly cuts a triangle in the ice, she tells us in a calm voice the story of how she got there.

After a terrible cycling accident, she almost lost her leg to necrosis, but the ice saved her. At first a truly agonizing experience, she came to discover the peace that lay beyond the pain.

She sits on the edge of the triangle, getting ready to plunge in. When she disappears beneath the surface you can almost feel the sharp shock of the icy water.

“There is no place for fear, no place for panicking, no place for mistakes,” she says. When she comes out for air, she seems as if she was born to do this. It is not difficult to imagine her diving 50 meters under the frozen surface—wearing only a swimsuit and a mask—to break the women’s world record for freediving under ice.

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