Interval 27. J.P. Sniadecki and Joshua Bonnetta

El mar la mar

Thursday, 31 October and Saturday, 2 November 2019 - 6pm and 7pm
Free admission, until full capacity is reached
Sabatini Building, Auditorium 
Film data

USA, 2017, colour, b/w, original version in English and Spanish with Spanish subtitles, 16mm transferred to digital archive, 94’

Direction, photography, editing, sound design and production: J.P. Sniadecki and Joshua Bonnetta
Sound re-recording mixer: Josh Berger
Colourist: Erik Choquette
Translation: Terra Cowham, Patty Keller, Gabriela Monroy, Cinta Peleja, Marco Romero and J.P. Sniadecki

Festival participation (2017):


Berlin International Film Festival. Caligari Film Prize

BFI London Film Festival

Chicago International Film Festival

Curitiba International Film Festival. Best Film Award

Dockufest Kosovo. Best Film Award

IndieLisboa. Universities Award

International Documentary Festival Amsterdam

New York Film Festival

San Francisco International Film Festival

Vienna International Film Festival

Organized by
Museo Reina Sofía
In collaboration with
Cineteca Madrid
Intersección-Festival audiovisual de arte contemporáneo

This new edition of Intervals, a screening series centred on recent film work, presents the latest film by J.P. Sniadecki (USA, 1979), made in collaboration with Joshua Bonnetta (Canada, 1979). As a member of the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab, J.P. Sniadecki melds experimental film with ethnographic research, analyses of the film medium and immersive experiences. On this occasion, he will present the first screening session, before participating in a talk moderated by Gonzalo E. Veloso.

El mar la mar is a topographical and existential exploration around the Sonoran Desert, one of the most unforgiving areas on the US-Mexico border. The zone spreads across 260,000 square kilometres and is populated by wild animals, poisonous plants, prehistoric fossils, military border patrols and migrants struggling for survival. Land whose unhospitable expanse and climate conditions turn the proclaimed construction of a wall to separate the two countries – one of Donald Trump’s main presidential pledges — into a pipe-dream verging on propaganda. Sniadecki and Bonnetta spent over three years filming in the Sonaran Desert in an attempt to find an answer to the following question: In what way can the language of experimental film, often based on an abstract investigation of time and perception, adapt to the commitment towards our present without relinquishing experimentalism? El mar la mar is filmed strictly in 16mm with sound directly from field recordings. The film-makers rejected the most obvious, well-trodden route — reportage documentary – opting instead for an immersive experience of temporary disorientation, setting forth a cinematic poem on the border by way of nature, weather conditions, the co-existence of species and the human longing to cling to life.


Joshua Bonnetta is an artist and film-maker who primarily makes analogue films for installations, performances and theatre exhibitions. His film pieces have been shown at MoMA NYC, ICA London, BFI London Film Festival, Whitechapel Gallery, Berlin Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, and other festivals, museums and galleries worldwide.

J.P. Sniadecki is a film-maker and lecturer who works between China and the USA as a director and anthropologist and as a professor at Northwestern University (Chicago). As a member of the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab, his films explore collective experience, sensory ethnography and the possibilities of film. Moreover, his work is part of the MoMA NYC and SFMoMA collection and has been screened at an array of museums, art centres and international festivals, for instance Shanghai Biennale, the Centre George Pompidou, BFI London, Locarno Film Festival and Beijing Independent Film Festival.

Gonzalo E. Veloso. Programmer and experimental filmmaker. Director and founder of INTERSECCIÓN, Contemporary Audiovisual Art Festival from A Coruña, a cultural event focused on author cinema and audiovisual artistic practices. He is also the creator and co-director of Estraperlo, a publisher dedicated to artist’s books and intermedia research.


J.P. Sniadecki and Joshua Bonnetta. El mar la mar
USA, 2017, colour, b/w, original version in English and Spanish with Spanish subtitles, 16mm transferred to digital archive, 94’

Session 1. Thursday, 31 October 2019 – 6pm
With introduction by Gonzalo E. Veloso and recorded intervention by the film-director, J.P. Sniadecki.

Session 2. Saturday, 2 November 2019 – 7pm