El Mar La Mar review – Engrossing experimental documentary set on the Mexico-US border | Film

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Immersive, disorienting, frightening: this experimental documentary takes its form from the landscape it explores. The Sonoran desert, on the border between the US and Mexico, is unimaginably unforgiving terrain. It’s an environment that leaves its mark on anything and anyone that passes through.

Joshua Bonnetta and JP Sniadecki’s film collates stories from both sides of the border to explore the plight of the migrants who are desperate enough to start the long walk into the forbidding desert. We don’t see the faces of the speakers; just weathered, often degraded 16mm footage of the land and the fragments of life that cling to it. Sometimes we see nothing but a blank screen. It’s the use of sound, rather than image, that gives the film an extra dimension. Snippets of voices lost in the wilderness of the airwaves crackle on the soundtrack – a device that recalls the use of distress calls from refugee boats in Gianfranco Rosi’s Fire at Sea.

But there’s more than that – the film captures the continual assault of the elements. A moment when the sound of a rainstorm suddenly floods the cinema gave me goosebumps. London-based audiences can also experience a new sound and video installation version of the project, commissioned and hosted by the ICA.

Watch a trailer for El Mar La Mar.

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: El Mar La Mar review – Engrossing experimental documentary set on the Mexico-US border | Film

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