Cracking the Frame goes on a short summer break with the special screening of Alma Har’el’s BOMBAY BEACH.

I’m extremely glad to be able to bring this amazing film to Amsterdam. I was totally mesmerized by it when I caught by chance at a film festival.

What better way to close the first season of Cracking the Frame with one of the best experimental documentaries produced in recent years?


Tuesday 15 May, 19.30h at Rialto Cinema Amsterdam.


Alma Har’el | US | 2011 | 80′

The desolate Salton Sea in California stands as a formidable metaphor for the broken American dream.

The largest artificial lake in California, at the height of American optimism in the 1950s the Salton Sea fuelled a recreation boom.

The inland desert sea became an inviting vacation destination for the rich and famous, the new “Palm Springs by-the-Sea”.

At the height of this boom, on the eastern shore a new little resort town came to life under the name Bombay Beach. Today, lack of underflow water and high salinity have killed off the lake and Bombay Beach is little more than a shanty ghost town in the poorest county of California.

The broken-down restaurant and nightclub signs from the ‘50s and the ghostly Marina are still there to remind the community of the dream that once was the Salton Sea, now a pool of dead fish in the middle of the desert.

The poetic documentary of photographer and music video director Alma Har’el follows a number of Bombay Beach inhabitants in their daily struggles, hopes and dreams for the future. 

Their stories unfold in a mix of dreamlike images and unforeseeable choreographed sequences staged by the film protagonists and by other locals.  

This haunting place outside of history and geography becomes the canvas for its inhabitants’ imagination to re-imagine it, as they try to do with their own difficult lives.

Are they a product of the place they live in, or is this a creation of their imagination instead?

Life, dream and art overlap in Har’el’s staggeringly original documentary.  

Filmed in surreal colours and with an unconventional narrative blending storytelling, contemplative images and performances, BOMBAY BEACH is nostalgically pervaded by music composed for the film by Zach Condon of the band Beirut and by ballads of Bob Dylan.



Best Feature Documentary – Tribeca Film Festival 2011

Special Jury Award – Sheffield Doc/Fest International Film Festival 2011



“A beautiful, quirky, and ultimately very moving elm about the American Dream as it teeters on the edge of a desert sea.” Terry Gilliam

“It will remain valuable as a piece of art, and as a recording of an important American story; but in its very production it was a valuable community service to the people of Bombay Beach.” “It is a bizarre amalgam of Busby Berkeley, Michel Gondry, and Harmony Korine… Har’el has created a new way of dealing with a documentary subject.” – Berlinale Critic Circle

 “Looks and feels like a fever dream about an alternate universe. Suffused with a sense of wonder, it hovers, dancing inside its own ethereal bubble.” – The New York Times




Started in November 2011, this monthly program features an international selection of critically acclaimed art related documentaries and artists’ films.

CRACKING THE FRAME focuses on the creative intersection between art and film through cinematic portraits of the life and work of established contemporary artists, filmmakers, writers and global thinkers.

Each film is theatrically unreleased in The Netherlands and will be screened in English or with English subtitles.

Every third Tuesday of the month at Rialto Amsterdam.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s