Nostalgia de la luz (Nostalgia for the Light)

Poster for Nostalgia de la luz (Nostalgia for the Light)

Autumn 2013 Documentary series

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 7:00pm

Acadia Cinema's Al Whittle Theatre
450 Main Street, Wolfville, NS

Directed by Patricio Guzmán

Screenplay by Patricio Guzmán

Starring Luís Henríquez, Lautaro Núñez, and Gaspar Galaz

Rated NR · 1h 30m
France / USA / Spain / Chile / Germany
English and Spanish

View trailer

Nostalgia de la luz (Nostalgia for the Light)

Nostalgia for the Light is a strange and stunning work of art: a poem disguised as a movie about astronomers in the Atacama desert of Chile. But it is not just about people looking up in their search for the origins of everything. It is about people looking down and inward, too—archaeologists, political victims and women who hunt for the bones of loved ones “disappeared” by strongman Augusto Pinochet.

As filmmaker Patricio Guzmán makes clear in lyric narration, they are all combing through the past to understand the present. But perhaps there is no such thing; perhaps there is only a succession of moments that slip into history before we have time to notice them.

“The present doesn’t exist. It’s true,” explains an astronomer, describing the tiny delay in light that bounces off an object and travels to our eyes. Moonlight takes just over a second to arrive, he says. Sunlight, eight minutes. In other words, the past is all we have.

Guzmán is an old hand at Chilean political documentaries, but this is hardly a conventional entry in the genre. The first 14 minutes are nothing but images and narration, a sequence of rhapsodic musings over gorgeous shots of stars and sand.

“Subjects appear onscreen with little or no identification, but their stories emerge in plain and affecting detail. We meet an architect who memorized the dimensions of his prison; a young astronomer whose parents disappeared during Pinochet’s regime; a group of women who have picked through the desert for decades, heads down, feet shuffling, in search of human remains. The effect is heartrending and exquisitely beautiful, a tribute to memory as the ‘gravitational force’ that forever binds and defines us.” (Amy Biancolli, San Francisco Chronicle)

“The film’s passionate insistence on remembrance lends it a moral as well as a metaphysical weight. Mr. Guzmán’s belief in eternal memory is an astounding leap of faith.” (Stephen Holden, The New York Times)

“A film of rare visual poetry that’s simultaneously personal, political and philosophical, it’s a genuine art film that’s also unpretentious and easygoing.” (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times)