El Mar La Mar (2017)
An immersive and enthralling journey through the Sonoran Desert on the U.S.-Mexico border, El Mar La Mar weaves together harrowing oral histories from the area with hand-processed 16mm images of flora, fauna and items left behind by travelers. 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, J.P. Sniadecki's attentive documentary approach mixes perfectly with Joshua Bonnetta's meditations on the materiality of film. Together, they've created an experience of the border region like nothing you've seen, heard or felt before.