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.
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.
- "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." The Sunday Mirror –
- "An eerily compelling documentary about lost souls in a lost place" The 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" The Mirror –
- "This elegiac dance of a documentary is worth seeking out" The Times –
- "Quirky, moving and unique, it’s a haunting bedside view of the place the American Dream went to die." Total Film –
- "Emits a rare and powerful hold, making it quite unforgettable" Empire Magazine –
- "The crisp, artful photography, often drenched in rich magic-hour sunlight, is simply breathtaking." Time 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." List 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
Bombay Beach and the allure of the ghost town — The Guardian
Gilbey on Film: Truth and lies — New Statesman
Interview - Alma Har'el — Phil on Film
Bombay Beach Film Interview — View London
Bombay Beach: Feature film debut — Ideas Tap
All posts about this release from the dogwoof blog
January 24th, 2013
Win a copy of the films poster to celebrate the film's nomination!
January 9th, 2012
Wilton's Music Hall will host this screening on January 28th
October 27th, 2011
5 Dogwoof films are nominated for the annual awards