Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light is a powerful work – part-documentary, part-cinematic essay – which uses the Atacama Desert in Chile as the departure point for a captivating investigation. Because it is so dry and the air so thin, this desert is one of the best places on Earth for telescopic lenses to scrutinize the atmosphere; it allows for an incomparable look at the universe.

In Chile’s Atacama Desert, 3,000 meters above sea level, astronomers from around the world take advantage of a sky so clear it allows them to see to the very boundaries of the known universe. Meanwhile, at the foot of the observatory, women dig through the soil in search of the “disappeared” victims of Pinochet’s regime, their remains mummified by the hot, dry climate. In Nostalgia for the Light, Guzmán once again exhumes Chile’s past, contrasting those looking out toward the stars with those sifting through the reminders of a bloody past.

Nicholas Davies
Abu Dhabi International Film Festival

The beauty of Nostalgia is that the many metaphors and surprising parallels between the universe, archaeology and Chile’s recent past rise organically from the material… The idea that the universal truths can be found by focusing on local details is again proven here.