Received to rapturous critical acclaim after worldwide festival screenings, this exquisite, award-winning documentary from Chilean documentary maker Patricio Guzmán (The Battle of Chile, Salvador Allende) is an extraordinary watch.
Guzmán explores the Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth, where 10,000 feet above sea level, astronomers work to observe the stars in a sky so translucent that views extend to the boundaries of our universe. But when Guzmán's camera is lowered to the ground, this unique and wonderful place also evidences layers of disturbing human history. It's so dry in the desert that human remains can't perish, and so it's possible to find pre-Colombian mummies, the bodies of 19th century explorers and miners there - and, most terribly, the remains of political prisoners 'disappeared' by the Chilean army after Pinochet's rise to power following the military coup in 1973.
So as astronomers look for astonishing new vistas in the heavens, women search the earth for the bodies of their loved ones who were dumped here, in an attempt to reclaim their families' histories and lay appalling ghosts to rest. Guzmán juxtaposes the two extraordinary quests, celestial and earthly, that take place in this astounding location. He shows the humanity inherent in both impulses - to see beyond, and to bring home. Visually stunning, this is a painful, profound film.
"Stunningly beautiful. I don’t know how you can put more into a film, or make one that’s more deeply moving." Stuart Klawans, The Nation
"An extraordinary film about the unknown and the unknowable." Sight & Sound
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