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The Two Sights and El Mar La Mar

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Streamed February 3 through February 9

Two enigmatic avant-garde visions of the connections between storytelling, mythology, and the environment employ contrasting oral histories, natural sounds, song, and cinematography. The Two Sights focuses on tales about the visionary seers of the Outer Hebrides, and El Mar La Mar on stories of migrants wandering the Sonoran Desert of northwestern Mexico.

The Two Sights

Interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker, and teacher Joshua Bonnetta is attentive to the sounds of the places he films. Frequently, the auditory experience becomes a central feature of his work. For The Two Sights he traveled to the Outer Hebrides, an island chain off the western coast of Scotland, traditionally a land of visionaries and seers. Hoping to capture some of the mystery, he used oral history field recordings and ambient and archival sounds, as well as 16mm cinematography, to explore the spatial, temporal, and historical dimensions of these surroundings. “I had a broad framework in that I wanted to make a film about the changing environment in the Western Isles and explore that through a connection between oral history and acoustic ecology.” (2019, 90 minutes)

El Mar La Mar

Joshua Bonnetta and J. P. Sniadecki’s poetic, oblique, and occasionally elegiac film on the topic of border crossings through the vast Sonoran Desert of northwestern Mexico and the American southwest trails the most modest of Mexican immigrants who use this desert route to exit their homeland. Many lose their way, but the filmmakers show only traces of possessions discarded or left behind. The actual human stories are voiced by informers and storytellers, and the travelers are never seen. Meanwhile, the overpowering forces of sky and desert—shot on 16mm film stock—dominate the view, and audio counterpoint concludes with a poem by the 17th-century nun Juana Inés de la Cruz. “Ennobling in the way it inspires, through pure aesthetics, the kind of humane empathy that we could all use some more of these days”—Kenji Fujishima. (2017, 95 minutes)

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