Directed by Patricio Guzmán • Documentary • 2010 • 90 minutes
Master director Patricio Guzmán travels 10,000 feet above sea level to the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert, where atop the mountains astronomers from all over the world gather to observe the stars. The sky is so translucent that it allows them to see right to the boundaries of the universe.
The Atacama is also a place where the harsh heat of the sun keeps human remains intact: those of Pre-Columbian mummies; 19th century explorers and miners; and the remains of political prisoners, 'disappeared' by the Chilean army after the military coup of September, 1973.
So while astronomers examine the most distant and oldest galaxies, at the foot of the mountains, women, surviving relatives of the disappeared whose bodies were dumped here, search, even after twenty-five years, for the remains of their loved ones, to reclaim their families' histories.
Melding the celestial quest of the astronomers and the earthly one of the women, NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT is a gorgeous, moving, and deeply personal odyssey.
"NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT is one of the most beautiful cinematographic efforts we have seen for a long time. Its complex canvas is woven with the greatest simplicity. For forty years, Patricio Guzmán has had to struggle every inch of the way, with a vivid memory and intimate suffering to reach this work of cosmic serenity, of luminous intelligence, with a sensitivity that could melt stone. At such a level, the film becomes more than a film. An insane accolade to mankind, a stellar song for the dead, a life lesson. Silence and respect."—Jacques Mandelbaum, Le Monde