Partners: Directed by Alma Har’el for Bombay Beach Productions; distributed by ro*co international, Focus Features (theatrical, U.S.) and Dogwoof (theatrical, UK).
Length: 80 minutes
Premiered: Berlinale, 2011
Rights available: All rights, outside of U.S., UK and Canada
Bombay Beach is the first feature effort from Israeli-born Har’el, who had previously showcased her distinctive helming style via music videos for alt-folk act Beirut (who contribute to this film’s soundtrack, along with one Bob Dylan). It was while filming a video for Beirut that she first stumbled upon Southern Bombay Beach, the community – a wide-ranging group of individuals and families gathered along the east shore of the Salton Sea in Southern California. The director was immediately awestruck by the characters there, and by the geography of the area – both surreal in their own ways.
The film has garnered both huge accolades, winning the prize for best documentary feature at Tribeca, and criticisms from some in the doc community, for staged, choreographed sequences that aim to illustrate other areas of the inhabitants’ personalities that perhaps a more vérité approach wouldn’t uncover. Regardless, the sumptuous imagery and engrossing stories of the film’s “stars” make it a “can’t miss” for doc fans and plain old movie buffs alike.