Shallow Waters: The Public Death of Raymond Zack
A film by Jaime Longhi

32 minutes, documentary, color, English, 2015

For educational streaming click here.



How does a mentally ill person drown himself in a few feet of water on a crowded Memorial Day beach?

A tall, middle-aged, fully dressed man walks up to his shoulders into the cold shallow waters of San Francisco Bay; and he waits. Police and Fire units respond in droves; and they wait. A good-sized crowd watches and waits as the sand in the man's hourglass runs out. Succumbing to the cold and rising tide, the man loses consciousness within the hour. His body is left to drift slowly back to shore...and still, they wait...

Winner of multiple awards – including Best Documentary (New Hope Film Festival 2016) – and screened at the convention of the American Psychological Association (2016), Shallow Waters deconstructs the events of that hour in an attempt to understand what happened and why. What were they all waiting for?

Watch the Trailer


"I was stunned by your doc. The outrage still lingers!" - Paul Sloop, Short Films Programming Manager, Cleveland Int'l Film Festival

"Are we our brothers' and sisters' keepers?' Or put another way, is selfishness a gross aberration of human nature? I think it is. But watching this superbly crafted movie gave me pause. A man drowned in shallow water as onlookers stood by. What does this say about them, about us, about the capacity for us to unite and create a society where people care about each other?" - Michael Steven Smith, Attorney & Co-host, Law and Disorder Radio (WBAI / Pacifica Radio Network)

"Shallow Waters' is a lyrical and haunting documentary that asks penetrating questions about the value of human life and what has become of the social contract. As good independent media does, it tells us not what to think but tells us what to think about. The public drowning of Raymond Zack was a deeply disturbing incident. As we gently unpeel the layers of what happened that day, the ramifications bear deeply on what it is to be human in the 21st century." - Tracy Rosenberg, Executive Director, Media Alliance

"The film’s subject is hard to believe, that something like this could happen and no one would just step up for a life. The film doesn’t really give answers; it creates more questions about our morality, red tape and how we respond to the mentally ill. It was an important film to screen." - Skye Kelly, Director, Awareness Film Festival (L.A.)

"I saw several films during the festival here and 'Shallow Waters' was by far the most moving documentary among them. I think what makes the film so compelling is that it brings up so many issues: our ethical responsibility to each other; the many ways in which our bureaucracies can fail us; our mistrust – our well-founded mistrust – of the community services that are supposed to be protecting us. We all – every single one of us – walked out of that documentary pondering the most important question of all that is posed by that incident: what would I have done? That includes me." - Michael McLeod, Professor, Rollins College / Global Peace Film Festival (Orlando, FL)


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