Patricio Guzmán’s meditation on time and Chile’s Atacama Desert made its debut at Cannes in 2010. It screened extensively on the fest circuit, with stops at Toronto, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Full Frame, San Francisco, Miami, and Thessaloniki Doc, among many others. The film also picked up awards from the IDA and the European Film Awards.
Atacama, one of the driest environments on the planet at 10,000 feet above sea level, serves as a nexus uniting the stars above and the ground below in Guzmán’s masterfully conceived and shot film essay. While astronomers are drawn to the site to take advantage of the atmospheric conditions enabling them to witness the secrets of the cosmos, others are busy studying the earth beneath their feet. The arid climate serves to protect archaeological treasures from pre-Columbian times, and, most affectingly, more recent deposits – the remains of loved ones – dissidents who were “disappeared” during Pinochet’s brutal regime. As scientists and still grieving families gather in the same space, each on different, but related, quests – to turn back the hands of time – Guzmán crafts a stunning and singular evocation of place and memory.