The rusting relic of a failed 1950s development scheme, the Salton Sea is a barren California landscape often seen as a symbol of the failed American Dream. First-time director Alma Har'el visits this poetically fruitful terrain 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 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 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 extraordinary documentary experience—an evocative, symbolic portrait of those who live in cultural obscurity.
“A beautiful, quirky, and ultimately very moving film about the American Dream as it teeters on the edge of a desert sea.”—Terry Gilliam
“Wonderful, remarkable and irresistible.”—INDIE WIRE
“Many fictional films try to portray dignity in rural decay, but the authentically poetic Bombay Beach is the real deal.”—The Associated Press
“A mosaic that evokes the three ages of man in a post apocalyptic America.”—NY Times
“An American beauty.”—WALL STREET JOURNAL
Best Documentary—TRIBECA Film Festival
Official Selection—BERLIN International Film Festival
Indie Spirit Award Nomination—TRUER THAN FICTION Film Festival
Special Jury Award—SHEFFIELD Doc/Fest
Best Documentary—International GUANAJUATO film festival