Jillian Schlesinger's debut documentary, Maidentrip, is not your standard, typical fare when it comes to subject or style. Following the incredible journey of Holland-based Laura Dekker, just fourteen years old at the start of the film, Maidentrip is an exploration of independence and a life lived outside the norm.
Dekker's unusual desire to travel the world at such an early age stemmed not only from a somewhat psychologically fraught childhood (her parents divorced and her father was often prone to mood swings), but also an innately independent and curious nature. Her goal to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world by herself was the subject of much debate in the Dutch media, leading to a larger argument about how much one's government should be able to intervene in a minor's life.
The controversy caused by her announcement prompted the Dutch court system to obtrude, initially blocking her plans after a ruling that made the Council for Child Care her joint custodian. Ultimately, Dekker got her wish, beginning her expedition in the summer of 2010. Her combined precociousness and confidence only become more evident as the documentary goes on. Filmed in part by Dekker during the portions that take place on her boat and by Schlesinger and cinematographer Hillary Spera when Dekker finds her way to dry land, Maidentrip shows us the juxtaposition of a life at sea and one among civilization.
Her sense of wanderlust is elucidated in statements like, "Freedom is not being attached to anything." In fact, her ire for what is deemed by the Dutch specifically and society in general as convention is apparent throughout the documentary. Declaring her lack of interest in returning to Holland and an absence of affinity with her countrymen, Dekker finds a greater pull toward the place of her birth, New Zealand, and eventually sails there after landing in St. Maarten to complete her trip across the globe.
What one takes away from Maidentrip is that it is possible to create your own path (literally and metaphorically), even in spite of those who will tell you it can never be done. Dekker's courageousness--or what others call recklessness--is a reminder to those older than her to seize their whims and desires when they feel like it, even if it means stepping far outside of one's comfort zone.