Monday, 20 February 2012

Bombay Beach Australian Premiere at ACMI

Bombay Beach
Bombay Beach
"A beautiful, quirky, and ultimately moving film about the American Dream as it teeters on the edge of a desert sea" - Terry Gilliam

"Madly inventive" - The Guardian "

An American beauty" - Wall Street Journal

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image will premiere Bombay Beach, a unique documentary using poetry and performance to tell the story of a destitute community in south west America.

Once a playground for the rich and famous, the Salton Sea is now a ghostly shanty town in the Californian desert. The small population inhabits a landscape where surreal beauty intersects with the harsh realities of life on the very margins of society. 

Described by the filmmakers as a "triptych of manhood", Bombay Beach follows the lives of three residents; Benny, CeeJay and Red.

Benny is a young boy with dreams of being a fire fighter. Removed from his family at three weeks old when their home was inspected by child protection services, Benny was returned two years later noticeably "different" to other children and subsequently prescribed multiple medications to manage his moods and behaviours.

CeeJay is sent to live with his father after his cousin is murdered in his crime-addled Los Angeles neighbourhood. For CeeJay, the inherent boredom he encounters in his new home becomes an opportunity to make something of himself, away from the temptations of violence and crime. With his new focus, CeeJay sets his sights on winning a football scholarship that would make him the first in his family to go to college.

Red is an elderly man, a former oil-worker who, divorced and estranged from his children, started a life of never-ending travelling in his trailer. When his health fails, an opportunity to leave Bombay Beach arises, but Red returns with his trailer to the only life he knows, selling cigarettes to get by.

Director Almar Har'el's feature debut is a unique documentary. Citing Bob Fosse as an influence, Har'el deftly weaves dreamlike dance sequences, performed by the real protagonists in the film, with the narrative. The documentary features an original soundtrack by Beirut's singer-songwriter Zach Condon along with songs by Bob Dylan. 

Born and raised in Israel, Har'el brings an outsider's perspective to Bombay Beach, finding both beauty and brokenness in the community and landscape. She discovered the isolated town while looking for locations nearby the Coachella music festival to film a music video for Beirut. Fascinated by the people she met and lifestyle she encountered, Har'el immediately started planning her return to film the documentary. With a background in photography, she is recognised for creating evocative images of landscapes and characters infused with modern dance. Until Bombay Beach, her primary moving image works were commercials, video art performances and music videos. A frequent collaborator with Condon, Har'el earned critical acclaim for her direction of Beirut's music video Elephant Gun.

ACMI Film Programmer, Kristy Matheson, said this acclaimed film deserves to be seen in Australia. "One of the standout films of the 2011 Berlinale and winner of Best Documentary Feature at Tribecca, Bombay Beach is unique and breathtaking cinema. We are so pleased to have the Australian premiere here at ACMI this April. "

Bombay Beach will screen in ACMI's First Look program for four nights only from Friday 6 to Monday 9 April 2012. For more information, please visit

Praise for Bombay Beach:

"Wonderful, remarkable and irresistible way of presenting strange truth through hyperreal execution" - Indie Wire

"A knockout" - Village Voice

"Poetic" - NY Magazine

Director Alma Har'el, 2011, 80mins, USA, Source/Courtesy: Bombay Beach Films

Further information

Claire Butler
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2415 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 654
Facebook icon   Twitter icon   Contact Us Terms of Use Privacy Site Map   Share and Print   Victorian Government Website