Punt Wars is a modern tale about an ancient corner of England. Punts and punting are synonymous with Cambridge but how much do you really know about what goes on on the banks of the river?
In contrast to the tranquil waters and solemn college buildings that line the River Cam, this documentary gives us the inside story about the power struggles at play amongst the chauffeur tour companies vying for the business of millions of tourists.
The boatsmen who work the river, including director James Bayliss-Smith, compete with each other to sell visitors punt tours of the university. It’s a vibrant world full of gentlemanly blaggers and scoundrels and Punt Wars chronicles the commercial and idealogical power struggles of this unique group of boatmen.
An ‘insiders’ account, the documentary follows several independent punt-chauffeurs in a period of existential threat to the industry during a tumultuous time. Cambridge punting is threatened by new regulations and it’s every man (and one woman) for themselves. Presenting a microcosm of wider societal forces, Punt Wars uncovers the secrets of Cambridge’s troubled waters and ultimately asks some difficult questions about our modern world.