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El Mar La Mar

February 27, 2018

El Mar La Mar

(Dir. Joshua Bonnetta & J.P. Sniadecki, 2017)

Co-presented by MUBI!


7:30 PM


8:00 PM


Downtown Independent
251 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Yanai Initiative logo_edited.jpg
Yanai Initiative logo_edited.jpg

Shot  over several years in the Sonoran Desert near the US/Mexico border, Joshua Bonnetta and J.P. Sniadecki’s intensely complex and transcendent El mar la mar weaves  together oral histories of desert border stories with hand-processed,  grainy 16mm images of the flora, fauna and those who trespass the  mysterious terrain, riddled with items its travelers have left behind. A  sonically rich soundtrack adds another, sometimes eerie, dimension; the  call of birds and other nocturnal noises invisibly populate the austere  landscape.

Over a  black screen, people 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. The majority of El mar la mar occurs in darkness—often with only traces of light outlining the  figures moving in the night—leaving exposed the sharp edges of a fatally  inscribed line. Emerging from the ethos of Harvard’s Sensory  Ethnography Lab, Sniadecki’s attentive documentary approach conspires  supernaturally with Bonnetta’s meditations on the materiality of film.  Their stunning collaboration is a mystical, folktale-like atmosphere  dense with the remains of desire, memories and ghosts. -David Pendleton,  Harvard Film Archive

A  kaleidoscopic film, piecing together evidence of many different  journeys, building an image of the Sonoran desert as a concrete and  unforgiving environment rather than an ideological battleground.

- Irina Trocan, photogénie

Together  with Joshua Bonnetta, [Sniadecki] is doing more than just about any  other young contemporary filmmaker to reconceive the documentary.

- Travis Jeppesen, Artforum

El mar la mar is  arguably one of the few [films] to make ecstasy transcendent and  ennobling in the way it inspires, through pure aesthetics, the kind of  humane empathy that we could all use some more of these days.

- Kenji Fujishima, The House Next Door

Bonnetta  and Sniadecki’s work not only intervenes on [the US/Mexico border on  a] thematic level, it is also an invigorating experiment in film form.  Just as much as Kaurismaki, Gray or Peck, the filmmakers point the way  forward for cinema to be not just worthy, but great.

- Daniel Fairfax, Senses of Cinema

The  film manifests a profound respect for nature, a perspective which  accompanies its profound humanity. The choice to record the place on  16mm film is itself a political act, a recognition of the fundamental  characteristic of the material, which must in some way be subject to  nature, and rejection of the digital, which unattached from nature  always subjugates it.

- Yaron Dahan, MUBI Notebook

(Available to download after screening date)

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