Manuel accidentally puts the life of his best friend, a fish, in danger. To save him, Manuel has to fight against his own father. To see in the end, that maybe he and his father are fish, too.


Welf Reinhart


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Credited cast:
Christoph Grunert Christoph Grunert ... Manuel's Father
Nelio Neumann Nelio Neumann ... Manuel


Manuel accidentally puts the life of his best friend, a fish, in danger. To save him, Manuel has to fight against his own father. To see in the end, that maybe he and his father are fish, too.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Family



Official Sites:

Offical Webpage





Release Date:

2016 (Germany) See more »


Box Office


€5,000 (estimated)
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Technical Specs


Color (DCP)
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Did You Know?


In December 2016, 'Papa Under Water' was awarded as Best Family / Children Film in Calcutta International Cult Film Festival, in India. See more »

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User Reviews

A delicate family drama

Our emotions can make us feel this way sometimes. Like we're submerged in our own subconscious. And the most important relationships feel distant, blurry and out of touch… Especially for a child. 'Papa Under Water' is a delicate but deliberate family drama about a young boy quietly but desperately missing his father's attention and care and the fish who saves them both.

Manuel is growing up alone. His father is pre-occupied with work and though just down the hall, might as well be an ocean away. To deal with his loneliness, Manuel turns to his pet fish, his best friend and constant companion. But when misfortune strikes and Manuel's fish accidentally falls through the street grille of a basement window well, his father comes to his aid and saves the fish. The small encounter reminds both father and son of the bond they share. Manuel's last thoughts as he drifts to sleep in his father's arms are of the two swimming underwater.. together. At the end of the day, more than a fish was saved.

Student director Welf Reinhart does a lovely job at moving gently through each scene, and for a short film the story is beautifully modulated. What impressed me most is how intentional the film is. From the imagery to the placement of dialogue to Pablo Anson's whimsical scoring. There's a lyric quality, a light, but deliberate touch much like a father's guiding hand on the small of a child's back. Interesting, since the story is about a child craving that very guidance and safety from his own father. Another intentional move by Reinhart, I am sure. In his role as director, he imparts this paternal quality to enhance the connection between the viewer and lonely Manuel. We feel his father's absence as keenly as he does.

Christoph Grunert and Nelio Neumann deliver nicely nuanced performances as father and son. And the end montage between them is beautifully rendered. From underwater play to making paper boats before bed to falling asleep in his father's arms. This film took me back to how I felt as a child. Being so vulnerable but knowing that as long as my dad was with me I was safe.

We all sometimes feel like we're underwater. Everything is happening around you. Things appear blurry. Sounds are distant. The water resists you with every stroke as you swim for the surface. In these moments, we're all children again and what a difference it made all those years ago when father was there to pull you in and carry you on his back.

Shevaun Cavanaugh Kastl/Cult Critic/CICFF

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