March 2018, distribution news

"El mar la mar"

by Joshua Bonnetta and J.P. Sniadecki, opens June 7, 2018 accompanied by the Caligari Award tour

(1) © Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki

The sun beats down mercilessly on all those who cross the Sonoran Desert between Mexico and the United States. Aside from the few people who live here, it’s the poorest of undocumented immigrants that make the crossing, who have no choice but to take this extremely dangerous route, followed by border guards both official and self-appointed. The horizon seems endlessly far away and deadly dangers lurk everywhere. It’s best to move under the cover of darkness; during the day, being exposed to the heat and sun is enough to make animals and humans perish.

Their traces and remains accumulate, fade, decompose and become inscribed into the topography of the landscape, making the absent ever-present as life and death, beauty and dread, hostile light and nights aglitter with stars and promise all continue to exist alongside one another.
El mar la mar masterfully weaves together sublime 16-mm 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 multi-faceted panorama of a highly politicised stretch of land, a film poem that conjures up the ocean. (Hanna Keller, Forum catalog)

Caligari Award 2017
Jury statement: "The journey leads through the desert, a wasteland. Lying there like flotsam on a beach: a backpack, banknotes, an identity card, a name – the only name in EL MAR LA MAR. The voices that we hear are without bodies; are incorporeal. They tell of the sun, of the heat, of the beauty, of natural catastrophes. They tell of death, of hardship, of pain, and of survival. The endless expanse of the Sonoran Desert stretching between the United States and Mexico. Light and shadows, space and time; the tracks in the sand and the objets trouvés unbalance our sense of time and place, converting the film into a physical experience. Migration, refuge, and politics: in the form of an audiovisual experiment, the two directors get straight to the heart of existential questions. The journey leads through the desert."

The dates and places of the Caligari Award Tour will be published here soon.

Joshua Bonnetta, born 1979 in Canada, is an artist based in New York who works with 16mm analogue film and sound in various modes of theatrical exhibition, performances and installation. Bonnetta is an associate professor for Film and Video Art and Sound Art at Ithaca College in New York State. Films (Selection): 2002: Cathode Aurora (Video installation, 6 min.). 2004: Patchwork (Film installation). 2007: By Grace (3 min.). 2009: Parting (Film and video installation). 2010: Long Shadows (12 min.). 2012: American Colour (25 min., Video installation, Forum Expanded 2012), Remanence I – (Lost, Lost, Lost, Lost) (2 min., Forum Expanded 2013). 2013: Strange Lines and Distances (Video installation, Forum Expanded 2013). 2016: Lanterna (Installation). 2017: Land of Thin Air (Video installation), Lago (Sound installation, 44 min., Forum Expanded 2017), El mar la mar.

J.P. Sniadecki, born in 1979 in Marne, Michigan, USA, is an artist, filmmaker, and anthropologist working in both China and the United States. He studied Philosophy and Film at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, and Chinese Language and Culture at East China Normal University in Shanghai. He then attended Harvard University, where he earned an MA in East Asian Studies and a PhD in Social Anthropology with Media, which he completed in 2012. He currently teaches filmmaking in the Documentary Media MFA programme at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, USA. Films (Selection): 2007: Songhua (29 min.). 2008: Demolition / Chai – Qian (62 min.). 2010: Foreign Parts (80 min.). 2012: People’s Park / Renmin Gongyuan (78 min.). 2013: Yumen (65 min., Berlinale Forum Expanded 2013). 2014: The Iron Ministry / Tie Dao (82 min.). 2017: El mar la mar.

USA 2017. DCP and BluRay. Running time: 94 min. Languages: English, Spanish. Language version: EV with German subtitles. Director, Camera, Editor & Production: Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki. Premiere: February 11, 2017, Berlinale Forum