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Azza Cohen's thesis film on The New Yorker Video

Before she dies, the 82-year-old Bubbe wants to learn how to swim, as chronicled in a short documentary by her granddaughter, Azza Cohen
Older woman looking at her own reflection in the mirror
Still from FLOAT! by Azza Cohen

Azza Cohen's (MFA '22) thesis film FLOAT! is now featured on The New Yorker Video

Cohen’s film “FLOAT!” follows her bubbe, Judy Miller, through the process of learning to swim with an instructor. It’s also a portrait of Miller’s daily life and her relationships with those around her—video-chatting with her best friend since kindergarten, letting her small dog, Tink, drink from her mug. Miller has a vibrant personality; she energizes a string of otherwise mundane moments with her unedited candor and wittiness. The film does not dwell on Miller’s past, and does not even mention the specifics of her life story as a child of poor immigrant parents, who had fled the Soviet Union and Poland, respectively, before the Second World War. But her immense wisdom and tenacity shine through immediately. “She always grew up with this sensibility of the American Dream,” Cohen told me. “And that was something she instilled in me as a kid.”

Read the full piece and watch the film on The New Yorker website: An Octogenarian Tackles Her Bucket List in “FLOAT!”

Cohen, who graduated from the Stanford MFA Documentary Film program in 2022, is currently serving as the videographer and video producer for Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris. You can find out more about her work on her website.

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