Dogwoof Films

Overview

Lyrical, striking, quirky, charming and eccentric; video artist and photographer Alma Har’el’s debut feature BOMBAY BEACH is a tender, often funny and sometimes heartbreaking portrait of the idiosyncratic residents of California’s Salton Sea.

Synopsis

The rusting relic of a failed 1950s development boom, the Salton Sea is a barren Californian landscape often seen as a symbol of the failure of the American Dream. A sea in the middle of the Colorado desert. First-time director Alma Har’el visits this poetically fruitful terrain in her distinctive documentary Bombay Beach, and finds there a motley cast including a bipolar seven-year-old, a lovelorn high school football star, and an octogenarian poet-prophet. Together they make up a triptych of American manhood in its decisive moments, populating the Salton Sea’s land of thwarted opportunity.

True to her roots as a photographer, video artist, and music video director, Har’el crafts here an adamantly atypical and artistically innovative film—a dreamlike poem that sets the personal stories of these distinctive yet familiar characters to a stylized amalgam of observational documentary and choreographed dance, with music by Beirut and Bob Dylan, all cast against the atmospheric scenery of the titular ghost town. The result is a moving and surreal documentary experience—an evocative, symbolic portrait of rural America and its inhabitants. Winner of the Tribeca film festival doc competition.

Reviews (16)

  • "Film of the Week - The Most extraordinary documentary" – BBC Film 2012
  • "A truly delightful film infused with a strange charm and moments of visual poetry." 5The Sunday Mirror
  • "An eerily compelling documentary about lost souls in a lost place" 4The Guardian
  • "Some inspired moments of magical realism, with one scene involving a child, a fire engine and a Bob Dylan tune that’ll make your spine tingle" 5The Mirror
  • "This elegiac dance of a documentary is worth seeking out" 4The Times
  • "Quirky, moving and unique, it’s a haunting bedside view of the place the American Dream went to die." 4Total Film
  • "Emits a rare and powerful hold, making it quite unforgettable" 4Empire Magazine
  • "The crisp, artful photography, often drenched in rich magic-hour sunlight, is simply breathtaking." 4Time Out London
  • "Finds an uplifting beauty through dreamlike choreographed danced scenes" – Little White Lies
  • "Har’el’s brings her experience to bear on a documentary style that adds a new dimension to the form" – The Arts Desk
  • "A beautiful film, with crepuscular lighting Terrence Malick could envy." 4List Magazine
  • "Alma Har’el's magical and poetical film Bombay Beach is an enchanting documentary hybrid" – Screen
  • "Har'el finds a way for people who are not dancers to express themselves physically" – LA Times
  • "A mosaic that evokes the three ages of man in a postapocalyptic America" – NY Times
  • "Wonderful, remarkable and irresistible way of presenting strange truth through hyperreal execution" – IndieWIRE
  • "Alongside beautiful cinematography is an exceptional soundtrack" – I-D Magazine

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Blog Posts

All posts about this release from the dogwoof blog

Our top documentary soundtracks

February 5th, 2014

The Dogwoof team list our top soundtracks featured in documentary films

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Bombay Beach - up for The Guardian Film Award + Competition

January 24th, 2013

Win a copy of the films poster to celebrate the film's nomination!

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Happy New Year

January 2nd, 2013

Our highlights from 2012 and ones to watch in 2013...

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