El Mar La Mar

Thursday, April 06, 2017
8:45 p.m.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017
6:30 p.m.
YBCA Screening Room

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Sunday, April 16, 2017
8:15 p.m.

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A timely and altogether mesmerizing portrait of place filmed in 16mm, Joshua Bonnetta and J.P. Sniadecki’s lyrical documentary is best described as being from, rather than about, the Sonoran desert. The US-Mexico border looms as an unspoken presence, the better to train our attention on the landscape’s primordial drama: hillsides burning through the night, bats flooding a cave, and a borderless sky—and deadly lack of shade—in all directions. The enveloping soundtrack is itself an epic poem of wind, gunshots, helicopters, and radio signals. Nestled into this sensory detail are firsthand accounts of the borderlands and its crossings. Crucially, the speakers are not named, credentialed, or even pictured; periodically the image goes black, and we find ourselves listening to their stories as if around the campfire. Haunted by things left unseen and people left behind, El Mar La Mar gives every impression of walking hallowed ground even as it recognizes its own complex kinship to the activists, border agents, and self-appointed patrollers following the tracks of migrants. Refreshingly, though, Bonnetta and Sniadecki’s patient filmmaking suggests that we reserve judgments until we know something of the terrain. —Max Goldberg

Filmmaker Bio(s)

Joshua Bonnetta (b. 1979, Canada) is an interdisciplinary artist working with analogue film and sound based in Ithaca, NY and New York City.

His work explores the perceptual encounter of place and how it is shaped by history.

His recent works have focused on the sonic ecology of the Sonoran Desert, the first wireless radio transmission and the relationship between color and representation in the now obsolete motion picture film stock Kodachrome.

J.P. Sniadecki is a filmmaker and anthropologist whose work explores the social contours of direct observation. He has made several films in China, including People's Park (2012), Yumen (2013), and The Iron Ministry (Festival 2015). Foreign Parts (Festival 2011), his documentary of life in the Willets Point neighborhood of Queens (co-directed with Véréna Paravel), won the Golden Leopard and Special Jury Prize at the Locarno International Film Festival.

Film Details
  • Premiere status: North American
  • Country(ies): USA
  • Language(s): English, Spanish
  • Year: 2017
  • Running time: 94
  • Director(s): Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki
  • Producer(s): Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki
  • Cinematographer(s): Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki
  • Editor(s): Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki

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