Under Review: ‘Alamar’ (aka ‘To the Sea’)


A delicate, artistic visual poem, “Alamar” is graceful in both its beauty and its depth.

There is little dialogue, but long visuals with just the sound of the surf and the lapping of water against a fishing skiff.

A pudgy, kind-looking blond Italian woman meets a beautiful Mayan Adonis with long, thick, curly dark hair, a single large curved tusk through his ear and a couple of symbolic tattoos. Their beach passion produces a beautiful little boy. However, by the time this child, Natan, is four years old, the Italian woman has become homesick for Italy and a more sophisticated lifestyle and the Adonis, the lean, tanned Jorge Machado, has remained rooted to his simple fishing life off the coast of southeastern Mexico.

At some point after her pregnancy, the Italian and Mayan had already separated – they neither spoke the same language nor had similar interests. When the blond Italian prepares to return to Italy, Machado comes to pick up his young progeny for a trip to his world, the Banco Chinchorro reef where he has built a house on stilts off-shore from an island that allows no construction.

It is here, along with his father (I think that is the relationship), that Jorge teaches his son his way of life. They swim, watch birds, fish, sing and eat great seafood concoctions that Grandpa cooks up and serves.

All the while there is an ebb and flow with nature, as Natan becomes more and more familiar with his father’s life and vocation.

“Alamar” is one of the 5 films that I saw as part of the 2010 Seattle International Film Festival, May 20 – June 13, and is the only one that earned my 5 out of 5 rating. And I don’t think I was alone. As people passed their ballots into the SIFF box I noticed that many looked like 5’s. This is just a beautiful movie.

It takes the viewer on a sensual visual voyage to the second largest living reef in the world where wonderful underwater photography catches the art of the men spearing colorful fish and capturing lobster. They use a snorkel device rather than scuba tanks and so appear to have amazing breathing powers.

The storyline is a testament to the joy a human can get when living so closely with nature. We are also moved when Machado takes his son’s shoulders in his hands and tells him slowly that he will be with him always.

It is a sad look at what sons, who end up living away from their fathers, miss. The transference of values, vocational skills and that deep manly bond that nurtures and develops self-confidence. Machado’s pain and abiding love are evident. Though he will be an absent father, he uses every second of their time together, including his vigilance throughout each night, resting his head, as if in prayer, upon the hammock where his son safely sleeps.

When the director was asked the genre of this film – is this a documentary of a real situation? He is evasive. But just in looking at the last names of the cast leads us to believe that this film documents a great love between father and son – one that is mirrored through the magnificence of nature and her creation.

So far, “Alamar” has already won six awards, including the Tiger award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize at the Miami Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Morelia (Mexico) Film Festival and the New Directors Award at the San Francisco Film Festival.

It’s due for wide release July 15. See it with your son.

Producers: Pedro González-Rubio and Jaime Romandia
Director: Pedro González-Rubio
Writer: Pedro González-Rubio
Cast: Jorge Machado, Natan Machado Palombini, Nestór Marín, Roberta Palombini
Cinematography: Pedro González-Rubio and underwater photographers
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 73 minutes
Country: Mexico
Language: Spanish and Italian
Subtitles: English
Rating: Family
Release: July 14, 2010 (USA)

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1 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Bev #

    Seattle Theatrical Premiere of Alamar
    at SIFF Cinema, December 3-9.

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