El Mar La Mar with Director J.P. Sniadecki

NR, 94 minutes


EL MAR LA MAR plays as part of the Art’s Brilliant Corners series focused on experimental & marginalized cinema. The screening will be followed by a discussion with J.P. Sniadecki — one of the film’s directors. 

A lyrical and highly topical film, focused on the Sonoran Desert between the U.S. and Mexico, EL MAR LA MAR weaves together harrowing oral histories of the border region with hand-processed 16mm images of the flora, fauna and items left behind by those who’ve made the hazardous trek. Subjects speak of 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. A sonically rich soundtrack adds to the eerie atmosphere as the call of birds and other nocturnal noises invisibly populate the austere landscape.

Emerging from the ethos of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab (their previous project, Leviathan, screened at the Art in 2013), Sniadecki’s attentive documentary approach mixes perfectly with Bonnetta’s meditations on the materiality of film. Through their stunning collaboration, they create a mystical, folktale-like atmosphere dense with memories, ghosts and the remains of desire. (2017, Joshua Bonnetta & J.P. Sniadecki, 94 mins, English & Spanish with English subtitles, 16mm to DCP)

One of the top 10 films of 2017 … cinema and landscape come together as sites of inscription marked by an encounter between the human and nonhuman.” — Erika Balsam, ArtForum

Bonnetta and Sniadecki’s film stands out because it allows one of the most politicized terrains in the world to speak for itself.” — Philip Oltermann, The Guardian


About J.P. Sniadecki

J.P. Sniadecki (b. 1979) works between China and the United States as an artist and anthropologist whose films explore collective experience, sensory ethnography, and the possibilities of cinema. His work is in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and has been exhibited at the Shanghai Biennale, the Whitney Biennale, the Shenzhen Biennale, the Centre George Pompidou and the Guggenheim, as well as at international film festivals, such as Berlin, BFI London, Locarno, New York, AFI, Viennale, Mar del Plata, and Beijing Independent Film Festival. Co-founder of the traveling screening series “Cinema on the Edge,” which showcases independent Chinese film, he has written articles for Cinema Scope andVisual Anthropology Review and the edited volume DV-Made China. A 2017 Guggenheim Fellow, he currently teaches in the Documentary Media MFA program at Northwestern University.


El Mar La Mar is presented with support from

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