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still El mar la mar (Joshua Bonnetta & J.P. Sniadecki, US 2018)

El mar la mar

Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki / US, 2018 / 95 min.

The Sonoran Desert, on the border between Mexico and the United States, is the harshest of environments. In the summer, daytime temperatures soar above 40 degrees Celsius, and water is scarce. Selected by Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor.

poster El mar la mar (Joshua Bonnetta & J.P. Sniadecki, US 2018)

Only the very poorest illegal immigrants opt to take this route to the U.S. Those who are lucky can cross the desert in three to five days, but most lose their way and die of thirst or hunger, or are picked up by the border patrol. As a local puts it, "Everything wants to hurt you here: the plants, the insects, the wild animals."

El mar la mar relates this human drama through the stories of survivors, trackers and inhabitants of the desert, whose voices we hear on the soundtrack. Here we see few people, and only within the formidable landscape and its ecology. This meditative, sometimes abstract documentary employs 16mm film to address a burning political and social issue with a poetic exploration of the desert. (IDFA)

Selected by Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, whose exhibition is on display in Eye.

On 6 February, El mar la mar is programmed in combination with Chick Strand - Fruits of Love and Labour. Tickets are sold separately.


Not (yet) rated


Joshua Bonnetta, J.P. Sniadecki

Production year




Original title

El mar la mar


95 min.


English, Spanish





Part of

Paravel & Castaing-Taylor

Eye Filmmuseum presents Cosmic Realism, the first retrospective featuring the works of Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor. Trained as anthropologists, they merge anthropology, documentaries, and visual arts in their craft. The exhibition takes the viewer past seven immersive installations in which the development of the makers can be followed.

Learn more
campaign image Paravel & Castaing-Taylor – Cosmic Realism

Why in Eye

Made by an alumnus of Harvard University’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, founded by Lucien Castaing-Taylor, where filmmakers, academics and artists conduct research into new relationships between cinema and anthropology.

still El mar la mar (Joshua Bonnetta & J.P. Sniadecki, US 2018)
still El mar la mar (Joshua Bonnetta & J.P. Sniadecki, US 2018)
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Current exhibition

  • 20 January — 20 May 2024

    Paravel & Castaing-Taylor

    Cosmic Realism

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