Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzman returns with another
documentary this time that is at times both deeply
personal and yet extremely political.
Nostalgia for the Light is set about the Atacama
desert in Chile; where the inhospitabe climate and
high altitude made it ideal for the building of an
observatory which was opened in 1977. The
message of bringing the universe closer to home shows
an aspirational tone of the South American nation.
Yet in the same vicinity there is a dark undertone,
during the General Pinochet dictatorship used the
desert for the Chacabuco Mine prisons were people
opposed to the regime would be taken to concentration
camps and ultimately killed. Later bodies were
left in mass graves in the Atacama. Now widows
and families scavenge the harsh terrain for any trace
of loved ones that may remain; this tone of
desperation is in stark contrast to the aspiration and
hope for attainment of the universe.
Guzman is an intelligent filmmaker and is keen to mark
the distinction between the sky and the ground; giving
both stories an equal platform. Guzman's
interview with one widow, Violeta Barrios, is
particularly wrenching in its honesty.
Clearly the notion and metaphor of astronomy is a
clever one; many of those interviewed state how Chile
needs a telescope to look into the ground of the
desert to find its past; whereas the telescope itself
is something looking towards the future.
Guzman shoots with a good eye when he looks upward,
showing scenes of great mystery and magic in the stars
whilst giving a look of another world on the Chilean
A film that although the notion of a documentary may
not appeal, it is certainly a film that values the
time and commitment.
Nostalgia for the Light is out on Friday 13th July
2012 on limited release and is distributed by New Wave