Bajo California. El limite del tiempo (Under California: The Limits of Time)

Director: Carlos Bolado
Screenwriters: Carlos Bolado, Ariel Garcia

Institute History

  • 1999 Sundance Film Festival


Part passion play, part western, and part road movie, Carlos Bolado’s debut feature is breathtaking homage to the powers of nature, art,
ritual, and love. A work of stirring beauty, Bajo California dramatizes the spiritual and physical odyssey of a man traversing a sand-ravaged coastline in search of his indigenous grandmother’s gravesite and a reckoning with his soul. As his pilgrimage transports him beyond the outer veil of modernity, he becomes a man humbled by his environs, learning that to face his present, he must first recommune with his past.
When Damian, a successful environmental artist, accidentally kills a pregnant woman crossing the Mexico-California border, he flees his wife and the imminent birth of his child. Inconsolable in his grief, Damian journeys to his ancestral homeland in Baja, California, in search of solace and a rooted sense of faith. Disoriented by heat and hunger, he stumbles through the desert, confronting the ghosts of Jesuit missionaries and indigenous peoples and, ultimately, his own mortality. But it is through a friendship forged with a native guide, Arce, that Damian discovers life’s richest lessons, the seeds of his artistry, and a revived passion for existence.
Bolado’s love of cinema resonates throughout Bajo California, recalling Antonioni for its experimental ethereality and Leone for the striking psychological manipulation of its camerawork and cuts (Bolado is the award-winning editor of Like Water for Chocolate). Resplendent with multi-textured shards of symbolism and allegory, Bajo California is exuberant cinema and the work of a daring new director.

Carlos Bolado, Director
Carlos Bolado received international recognition for editing Like Water for Chocolate; Like a Bride, which won the Audience Prize at the Toronto Interaional Film Festival in 1993; and Hasta Mori, which merited him a best editor award at Havana in 1994. That same year he directed the short film Ritos, which screened at festivals worldwide. Bajo California, his first feature film, won the 1998 Grand Jury Prize and the OCIC prize at Amiens, France. Bolado and his wife live in San Francisco.

— Rebecca Yeldham

Screening Details

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