‘Limitlessness in the Aquasphere’ is a journey of discovery through mindfulness and diving, created by filmmaker Oshim Somers after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In the film, Oshim explores the amazing wonders and beings in the ocean to find his limitless place and reflect on how mindfulness has helped him embrace the disease. Filmed in the magical underwater world of the Philippines, it includes amazing dives with mantas, in caves and sharks. The movie won the Best Oceanian Film in the August 2023 round of the Cannes World Movie Festival. The film was also Nominated for Best Inspirational Movie, Best First Time Filmmaker and Best Film on Disability, as well as a Finalist for Best Soundtrack.
We spoke with Oshim all about the process of making the film and his commitment to raising awareness about Parkinson’s.
Congratulations on the film Oshim! Tell us what it’s all about?
Limitlessness in the Aquasphere is about my journey of self-discovery through mindfulness and diving, after being confronted by the reality of having Parkinson’s disease. I would describe it as raw, real, authentic, and self-reflective. People who have seen the film have told me that it has made them reflect on their own lives. I think every person who sees it will take away something different after watching it.
How did you first get into film-making?
I have always found that being near the ocean – whether in my boat or in the ocean diving – to be a very calming and energising influence in my life. It has been always a positive focus and this together with my love of travel and underwater photography is in some part how the movie came together.
I have always loved photography and capturing images on film, video tape and now electronically. It was my Father’s influence that lead me to look at things in motion and still through a camera. From an early age he captured 8mm movie of his travels and of our lives growing up, migrating to Australia and growing up in in country South Australia. Dad was also a teacher and artist, and he also had Parkinson’s disease. I have previously made short films but never a movie and never about myself. This time I gave dive guides and crew cameras to capture the moment and as it turned out I was in many of the scenes.
I have to thank my Father for my love of photography and inspiration to capture the world of moving pictures and the amazing world under the Ocean. I grew up watching him capturing his adventures, travels, our world and special times, leaving us amazing visual memories of us growing up, migrating to Australia by ship, growing up in Port Pirie and much more.
What was the process of making this film like?
The making of the movie was a very personally rewarding at many levels, emotionally, meeting new people and learning from their journeys and also feeling a sense of contentment doing new things. I found it a very cathartic and healing process. While editing the film I found that I was often listening to my messages over and over again, and having them reinforced and affirmed to myself.
The movie essentially evolved over a very short period of time, as there was no movie script to start with, the script being the flow of life and the synchronicity and flow of the universe that enabling and unfolding the making of this movie. The dive masters who supported me and guided me safely in various dive locations, together with the dive boat crew, became my film crew. That together with the Uber driver Adam Geoffrey Cole (Trappist Afterland) driving me to an event and who’s music became the sound track are one of many examples of this synchronicity and flow.
Originally when making this movie I never intended to show it outside my close family and friends. Prior to my diving trip to the Philippines in April/May this year I reflected on the fact that I had not talked to my family about how I really felt about having Parkinson’s and had put on a happy brave face when talking about it.
I intended to make this movie for family and friends of my voyage of Self Discovery and diving with my favourite creatures, the Mantas, to express how I felt about the realities of having Parkinson’s and the fact that I was in full acceptance and embracing the fact I have this incurable disease. In many ways it’s how I want to always be remembered as my fear is it will be the disease that will be remembered, and they would not have seen what I have seen under the ocean. Now I realise the folly in that thinking, as my memories of Dad are of his love, creativity and full adventurous life .
Can you share with us about your year in the Philippines and your diving journey?
The Philippines is a beautiful country with authenticity in its people and places. I also felt the care and support from people wanting help you. The older in our society are valued and respected there. I found depths of compassion, care and authenticity in the people I met and subsequently learnt a lot from them.
Being in the heart of the coral triangle with amazing marine biodiversity, being made up of 7641 islands and containing over 10% of the worlds marine protected areas, makes the Philippines an amazing dive and water sport destination. I have found it to be a destination where I can coordinate the right people to get the additional support I need to comfortably enjoy my advanced diving and underwater pursuits. The waters arewarm, an amazing color and inviting. I love travelling and diving off traditional boats called Bangkas. Some of the dives involved being dropped off in a location and then at the end of the dive the boat crew spotting our marker buoy and coming over to a totally different location to where you were dropped off. You need to have trust of your dive master and crew, who are more often than not extremely skilled on the water and in the water.
What do you want people to understand more about Parkinson’s disease?
I feel it is one of the most misunderstood diseases. It is also one of least supported in finding a cure or halting of the condition and better means for early diagnosis. The misconception that it is simply an old person’s disease needs to be turned around, as the explosion of its incidents around the world impacting both young and old. The disease is on the increase significantly, but there is no public awareness of this. There is currently no cure and more effort and funding needs to be diverted towards finding a cure.
What drives your commitment to raise awareness about Parkinson’s?
I feel there is something little I can do to increase awareness and to have more resources diverted and invested in finding a cure. I know it will help people like me in the future. I am realistic that while I am benefiting from research from people who have had Parkinson’s before me, its unlikely a cure will be found in my timeframe. That does not mean I should give up and not look for a better future for others.
What is your advice for others living with Parkinson’s?
We are all on different journeys in life and we all have an inner voice to guide us. So giving advice is not always a good thing, guidance is perhaps what I will give instead. Live your best life, make it a limitless life and keep on dreaming, no matter how hard it gets. As our abilities diminish, acknowledge them and don’t compare to what you had, could do or to others. There is no normal as such, what was normal previously was then, if things have changed, then acknowledge the new normal.Filmmaker Oshim Somers says there needs to be significantly more public awareness about Parkinson's disease. There is currently no cure and more funding needs to be diverted towards research into finding a cure, he says. Click To Tweet
Interested in a mindful, supported and guided diving adventure? Contact Oshim to find out more about joining a group of divers and water lovers with Parkinson’s to go on supported trips in the Philippines.