The Atacama is an arid, high-elevation desert mounted resolutely against the heavens that span the Chilean sky. For decades, it’s been the site of several world class astronomical observatories, whose ability to envision our planet’s milky expanse goes unparalleled. The formidable instruments there boast a sort of magnificent clairvoyance, able to lure an ancient photon from the stasis of its spangled hideaway.
This windswept plateau also blankets the forsaken remains of some of the tens of thousands of political prisoners taken during the Pinochet military dictatorship. A host of forlorn mothers and family members scour this uninhabitable terrain for their missing loved ones.
In Nostalgia for the Light, Patricio Guzmán winds these two strands with poetic competence. Equal parts belletristic field journal and impassioned exhortation, the film draws a sensitive link between the scientific examination of celestial bodies from aeons past and the lamentable hunt for those buried human bodies, whose remains will bring closure and whose stories demand justice.
- Nostalgia for the Light (Guzmán 2010) @ Sundance Kabuki Cinemas #SFIFF