Experiencing Interruptions?

FLOAT!

Logline: With intimacy and humor, filmmaker Azza Cohen captures her magnetic Bubbe learning to swim at 82, inspiring audiences to defy societal expectations of aging (and call your grandma!).

Brief Synopsis: Aging is too often portrayed as a time of obsolescence, especially for women. Filmmaker Azza Cohen’s 82-year-old magnetic grandma is having none of that: “Everything is an attitude; we can’t act old.” Join Bubbe as she tackles her bucket list, bravely stripping down, wrestling on a wetsuit, and learning to swim. Sure, she’s got aches and pains and an inadequate Medicare plan like any octogenarian. But instead of kvetching, Bubbe embraces her wrinkles, varicose veins, and "hangy buzzies” and dives headfirst into a pool of possibility. “It’s all been fun,” she assures us. Jump in with her - the water’s warm.

  • Azza Cohen
    Director
  • Kathleen Borschow
    Producer
  • Azza Cohen
    Producer
  • Melissa Fajardo
    Producer
  • Devon Blackwell
    Associate Producer
  • Judy Miller
    Key Cast
  • David Miller
    Key Cast
  • Nora Roussel
    Key Cast
  • Tink
    Key Cast
  • Caryl Zamb
    Key Cast
  • Azza Cohen
    Key Cast
  • Drew de Pinto
    Additional Cinematography
  • Alex Stergiou
    Sound Recording
  • Drew De Pinto
    Sound Recording
  • Isabella Andaya
    Assistant Editor
  • Lloyd May
    Original Music
  • Dan Olmsted
    Sound Design and Mix
  • Robert Arnold
    Color
  • Mark Urbanek
    Technical Support
  • Paul Meyers
    Technical Support
  • Chris Nguyen
    Technical Support
  • Joel Rakowski
    Technical Support
  • Soo-Jeong Kang
    Executive Producers
  • Paul Moakley
    Executive Producers
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Genres:
    Documentary, Comedy, Sports, Jewish, Women, Seniors, Short, Non-fiction, LGBTQ+
  • Runtime:
    16 minutes 46 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 1, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    6,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Hebrew, Yiddish
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Stanford University
  • FLICKERS' Rhode Island International Film Festival
    Providence, Rhode Island
    United States
    August 12, 2023
    World In-Person Premiere
    FIRST Prize, The Marlyn Mason Award: New Voices, new perspectives by women in film
  • DC Shorts International Film Fest 2023
    Washington, DC
    United States
    September 24, 2023
    DC Premiere
    Winner, Outstanding Documentary; Winner, Audience Choice Award
  • The Women's Film Festival
    Philadelphia
    United States
    September 28, 2023
    Pennsylvania Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Austin Film Festival
    Austin, Texas
    United States
    October 28, 2023
    Texas Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Athena Film Festival
    New York City
    United States
    March 1, 2024
    New York Premiere
    Official Selection
  • LA Queer Film Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    April 26, 2024
    West Coast Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Phoenix Film Festival
    Scottsdale
    United States
    April 6, 2024
    Southwest Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Shortie Film Festival
    New York City
    United States
    March 7, 2024
    Best Short; Best Documentary
Distribution Information
  • The New Yorker Documentary
    Distributor
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights, Internet
Director Biography - Azza Cohen

Azza Cohen (she/her) is an award-winning director, cinematographer, editor, and producer currently serving as the director of video and official videographer for Vice President Kamala Harris.

Azza earned an MFA in Documentary Film and Video from Stanford (funded by the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program), an MA from the University of Galway (funded through a Mitchell Scholarship), and a BA from Princeton.

Her MFA thesis film FLOAT! — an award-winning 2023 New Yorker Documentary — captures Azza’s captivating grandma learning to swim at 82. As FLOAT! kicks off its festival run, the film has won first prize in the Marlyn Mason Award for new voices, new perspectives by women in film at the FLICKERS’ Rhode Island International Film Festival, and both Best Documentary and the Audience Favorite Award at the DC Shorts International Film Festival. FLOAT! just enjoyed its Texas Premiere at the renowned Austin Film Festival.

At Stanford, Azza also directed Dear Hormazd, a 16mm profile of a Zoroastrian couple urging their son to keep the faith; directed Nothing left to do but marvel, an experimental short filmed in soft focus inspired by her chronic migraine; and co-directed Bruce’s Dream, an immersive short about a retired racehorse re-learning to ride as a therapy horse for kids on the autism spectrum. And she produced Drew de Pinto’s thesis film Compton’s ‘22, which was nominated for an IDA Documentary Award.

As an undergraduate, Azza directed Refugee, Refugee, an award-winning micro documentary about a Rwandan refugee adjusting to life in New Jersey; and Specks of Dust, an award-winning short documentary about activists risking everything to fight human trafficking in India.

At CreativeChaos vmg after college, Azza worked on The Great Divide, a forthcoming documentary about U.S. gun laws; Bleed Out, a 2018 HBO documentary exposing the tragedy and injustice of medical error; and This Changes Everything, an award-winning 2019 Netflix documentary on how the underrepresentation and misrepresentation of women leads to gender discrimination in Hollywood. She has also worked with Academy Award-winning director Vanessa Roth on National Geographic’s IMPACT with Gal Gadot, a docu-series uplifting six remarkable women making an impact in their communities. Azza is eternally grateful to Andrew Jarecki, who gave her her first film credit as an intern on The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.

A Highland Park, IL native, Azza lives in Washington, DC with her life partner and producer Kathleen and their barky 10-year-old rescue dog Rex.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

FLOAT! is both a documentary portrait and a home movie. Shortly into filming, I realized it would be impossible to maintain the fourth wall because my grandma would interrupt me constantly to propose ideas, ask if I was cold or hungry, or ask for help. So much of her humor and candor in the film was grounded in our relationship, which deepened in newly vulnerable ways — an intimacy which shines through on screen.

The summer before I made FLOAT!, I came out as queer. The filmmaking process played a pivotal role in my heart-wrenching yet liberating journey. I hadn’t yet told my grandparents when we started filming, and a mentor encouraged me to be as authentic with them as they were being with me. While I endured the rest of my family struggling to adjust, Bubby and Poppy accepted me fiercely and unequivocally.

Making a film about my grandma processing her changing body also helped me understand why the traditional notions of femininity that she and my mom imparted never quite fit. Before she was my Bubbe, she was Judy Miller, the daughter of Jewish immigrants who worked seven days a week to put food on the table. Judy learned to be a nice American girl — a beautiful, charismatic leg model who never left the house without “putting her face on” and was always too “busy doing everything for everybody else” to take care of herself.

But at 82, Bubbe has the perspective and wisdom to teach us to love and prioritize ourselves at every stage. “You have to get my age to appreciate your age,” she reflects. “There should be less importance to how one looks, rather than how one has lived.”

I hope to bring my life-affirming film to audiences of all kinds all around the world, because I know that just 17 minutes with Bubbe will make their day and could even change their lives.