El Mar La Mar masterfully weaves together sublime 16mm shots of nature and weather phenomena, animals, people, and the tracks they leave behind with a polyphonic soundtrack, creating a cinematographic exploration of the desert habitat, a multifaceted panorama of a highly politicized stretch of land, a film poem that conjures up the ocean. — Hanna Keller, writing for the Forum Expanded catalog of the 2017 Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin
El Mar La Mar opens with a long impressionistic tracking shot of the border itself, a visual meditation of the object that reinforces the divide. We then move through the night in the Sonoran desert. Images are carved out of light, divulging the grievous space of the U.S.–Mexico borderland. Ambient and diegetic sounds mix with personal accounts and testimonials. El Mar La Mar thoughtfully considers the humanity contained within this contested space at a pace that allows the viewer to reflect and digest.
The film was made by Canadian artist and filmmaker Joshua Bonetta in collaboration with AAFF alumnus J.P. Sniadeki, whose films have been awarded at AAFF in the past. The Iron Ministry (2014) won a 53rd AAFF Jury Award and People’s Park (2012) was awarded the 51st AAFF FotoKem/Colorlab Award for Best Cinematography.
El Mar La Mar is presented in partnership with the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities, which currently features an exhibition of paintings that is in dialogue with the film. “Yo Tengo Nombre,” by Efroymson Emerging Artist in Residence Ruth Leonela Buentello, was inspired by the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and images—which have dominated media outlets across the nation since the summer of 2017—of migrant families being separated and detained at the U.S.–Mexico border. The show runs September 19 – October 31, 2019.
El Mar La Mar will show on Wednesday, November 6, at 7:00 p.m. at the State Theatre (233 South State Street) in Ann Arbor. It will be the final program of this year’s “AAFF Presents” series. This is the only film of the series that did not show at the recent 57th festival in March 2019.
Tickets are free for AAFF members.
Be sure to secure tickets and select your seats for the November 6 screening.
We look forward to seeing you there!