Drowning Letters

(Cartas mojadas)
Paula Palacios | Documentary

2020 | 81 minutes |

An urgent and necessary film to understand one of the most tragic chapters in contemporary history; the migratory crisis taking place across the Mediterranean Sea in search for European shores.


Thousands of people risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea every year in an attempt to reach the European shores. In her new film, renowned documentarian Paula Palacios sheds light on the urgent migratory crisis taking place today.

While a mysterious voice coming from the depths of the sea reads letters written by mothers to their children, Drowning Letters follows a rescue ship of the Spanish NGO Open Arms as it embarks on a dramatic mission to save the lives of 550 people stranded in international waters. The film also takes us aboard a Libyan Coast Guard military ship and shows us the most dangerous place in the world, Libya, where human beings are abused and enslaved.

Featuring unprecedented access and must-see images, Drowning Letters is an urgent and necessary film to understand one of the most tragic chapters in contemporary history.


"Drowning Letters is a slap in the face, a cry, a wave of indignation, a jolt of empathy that cannot leave anyone indifferent. Drowning Letters is not just wet paper. The beauty and intelligence of Paula's work offer a lesson that is impossible to forget." — Isabel Coixet

"Shot by Palacios with cinematographic flair...the doc feature doesn't skirt the ghastly fate of migrant and refugees returned to Libya, or the role of European rescue boat NGOs, such as Spain's Open Arms, a rare example of unequivocal real-life on-screen heroism. A moving testament to an urgent issue." — John Hopewell,Pablo Sandoval,Variety

"Drowning Letters is a cry for help,which comes thanks to showing the story without additives and giving a direct voice to the people involved. With this accurate view, Paula Palacios draws a realistic and sincere portrait, which makes an emotional impact to stir and reflect." — CinemaGavia

Main credits

Palacios, Paula (film director)
Palacios, Paula (film producer)
Palacios, Paula (screenwriter)

Other credits

Cinematography, Santi Palacios; editors, Virginie Véricourt, Julia Juániz, Maria Macías; music, Mariano Marín.

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Best Documentary Film Nominee, Goya Awards®
Audience Award, Malaga Film Festival
Audience Award, CIMA Award for Best Director, Ourense Film Festival
Valladolid International Film Festival, Seminci
African Film Festival, FCAT
Directed By Women, Spain


DIRECTOR: Paula Palacios


YEAR: 2020

GENRE: Documentary

LANGUAGE: French; English; Arabic; Spanish; Other languages

COLOR / B&W: Color

GRADE LEVEL: High School, College, Adults



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