Faber Navalis

Faber Navalis is Latin for boat builder, words in an ancient language for describing an ancient profession. This might seem to be a film just about the restoration of a wooden ship, but the actual subject of this documentary is the state of mind of its shipwright: an Italian researcher in maritime ethnography who decided to learn boat building skills in order to understand the intangible knowledge hidden behind the construction of a wooden ship. This film is an experiment in autobiographical ethnography, in which the shipwright is also the filmmaker; a combination of aesthetics and ethnography that attempts to bring out an inner dimension that may only with difficulty, if it all, be rendered without propositional prose.

Read a review of this film.

Year of Release



30 minutes


HD, Color



Review: Faber Navalis

Gabriele de Seta Faber Navalis is a movie about the embodied craftiness of boat-making. In the mobile camera-eye of Maurizio Borriello, the film-maker is also the faber navalis or ‘maker of ships’, at the same time director and directed, both silent artisan and self-aware documentarist. Condensed in thirty minutes of carefully spliced shots and intimate sounds is a compressed timeline…


Maurizio Borriello Thumbnail

Maurizio Borriello

Maurizio Borriello was born 1974 in Naples, Italy. He is a boatbuilder, filmmaker, and independent researcher in cultural anthropology.

After the Tsunami he worked as volunteer rebuilding fishing boats destroyed by the seaquake. Since then, his interest shifted to the study of coastal communities, boatbuilding technology, and transmission of knowledge. His research interests focus on understanding maritime cultures of the Indian Ocean from ethnographic and archaeological perspectives.