Price: $350.00

    Code: 2566

    Directed by Joshua Bonnetta and J.P Sniadecki
    2017, 94 minutes
    Purchase: $350 | Classroom rental: $125

    El Mar La Mar weaves together harrowing oral histories of the border region with hand-processed, 16mm images of the flora, fauna and items left behind by those who’ve made the hazardous trek. Over a black screen, subjects speak of their intense, mythic experiences in the desert: A man tells of a fifteen-foot-tall monster said to haunt the region, while a border patrolman spins a similarly bizarre tale of man versus beast. A sonically rich soundtrack adds to the eerie atmosphere as the call of birds and other nocturnal noises invisibly populate the austere landscape.

    Emerging from the ethos of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, Sniadecki’s attentive documentary approach mixes perfectly with Bonnetta’s meditations on the materiality of film. Through their stunning collaboration, they create a mystical, folktale-like atmosphere dense with memories, ghosts and the remains of desire.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    Official Selection – Berlin International Film Festival, 2017
    Official Selection – San Francisco International Film Festival, 2017
    Official Selection – New York Film Festival, 2017
    Official Selection – BFI London Film Festival, 2017
    Official Selection – Vienna International Film Festival, 2017
    Official Selection – Chicago International Film Festival, 2017
    Official Selection – AFI FEST, 2017
    Official Selection – International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, 2017
    Winner – Caligari Film Award, Berlin International Film Festival
    Winner – Best Film, Dokufest Kosovo
    Winner – Best Film, Curitiba International Film Festival
    Winner – Universities Prize, IndieLisboa


    “A powerful conflation of the mythical and geo politi-cal, pressing the viewer to contemplate the harrowing reality of illegal immigration” - Filmmaker Magazine

    "Although artfully constructed, full of breathtaking and poetic images, the film never turns this place into a merely aesthetic project. Rather it tells its story—and the discomfort and horror it creates in the viewer is definitely political. Facts about immigration are already commonly known, and a more conventional documentary about this border might not have given such a strong sense of the cruelty and horror that immigrants experience, and of their courage and desperation." - MUBI Notebook

    "It’s one of the strongest films yet to emerge from SEL, and, perhaps more interestingly, an inadvertent and unsettlingly topical portrait of the American southwest" - Sight and Sound


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