Berlinale: Programme

Film file


El mar la mar

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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.

Joshua Bonnetta
J.P. Sniadecki

USA 2017

English, Spanish

Documentary form
94 min · Colour


Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki
Director of Photography
Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki
Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki
Sound Design
Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki
Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki
Production Design
Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki
Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki


Joshua Bonnetta

Born in 1979 in Canada. Bonnetta works with analogue film and sound presented in various modes of theatrical exhibition, performances, and installation. He is an associate professor for Film and Video Art and Sound Art at Ithaca College in New York State.

Filmography (selection)

2002 Cathode Aurora; Video installation, 6 min. 2004 Patchwork; Film installation · First Snow; 2 min. · November Light; 2 min. 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 · Low Islands; Film installation, 65 min. · Lago; Sound installation, 44 min., Forum Expanded 2017 · El mar la mar

J.P. Sniadecki

Born in 1979 in Marne, Michigan, USA. He studied Philosophy and Film and Chinese Language and Culture. He then attended Harvard University, where he earned an MA in East Asian Studies and a PhD in Social Anthropology with Media. J.P. Sniadecki is an artist, filmmaker, and anthropologist. He currently teaches filmmaking in the Documentary Media MFA programme at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, USA.


2007 Songhua; 29 min. 2008 Demolition / Chai – Qian; 62 min. 2010 The Yellow Bank / Huangpu; 27 min. · 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

Produced by

Joshua Bonnetta
New York, USA

J.P. Sniadecki
Chicago, USA
+1 269 2672335