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176 Ratings

El mar la mar

United States, 2017


Representing the sensory experience of landscape, fauna and climate, this anthropological essay about border crossings explores the harrowing journeys of undocumented migrants crossing the inhospitable and arid Sonoran Desert—a strategic point of passage located between Mexico and the USA.

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El mar la mar Directed by Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki
Instead of offering a short burst of terror followed by the prospect of a quick escape, this immersive, sensorially complex movie evokes the terrifying disorientation and loneliness of migration: the eerie sounds of sand crunching underfoot; the surreal sights of jugs of water left by well-wishers; fragments of voices heard over radio transmissions. . . . The result is simultaneously elusive and concrete: abstract cinema that packs a punch.
February 22, 2018
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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.
July 25, 2017
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The US-Mexico border, the longest direct boundary between the First World and the Third, has been a geopolitical flashpoint for decades, and Bonnetta/Sniadecki’s work not only intervenes on this 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.
March 17, 2017
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