dir. Alison McAlpine | 2018 | 78 min | In Spanish, English, and French, with English subtitles
Through acclaimed cinematography, this experimental “love poem for the night sky” transports us to the Atacame Desert in Chile, one of the darkest places on our planet to experience our celestial surroundings. Featuring perspectives ranging from the scientific to spiritual from “Planet Hunter” researchers and local desert dwellers, McAlpine’s meditative documentary curiously inquires into our relationship to the earth, heavens, and the act of looking.
On this Earth Day, celebrate the grand view from our blue marble and consider what many communities are now missing through the effects of light pollution.
“A heady brew of science and poetry. The night sky above the Atacama Desert in Chile (is) an unusually pure spot to see the heavens – a treasured site for astronomers and stargazers.” – Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times
“A star-laden travel movie like no other. No planetarium could hope to replicate the awe-inspiring spectacle that is Alison McAlpine’s CIELO. The bespangled heavens above the Andes, which the director-narrator contemplates with awe worthy of a Romantic poet, is complemented in the film by the rugged hills, arid plains, lunar landscapes, and Pacific shores. Gaze at McAlpine’s film and drink in the mystery and realities of a place where, as she says, ‘the sky is more urgent than the land.” – Graham Fuller, The Culture Trip
Director’s Statement from Alison McAlpine
The unforgettable Chilean sky and the remarkable characters we filmed are at the heart of Cielo. These desert dwellers and scientists who live and work in the Atacama Desert- their stories, their reflections, their humour and humanity and the endless beauty of the sky- were and are my continual inspiration. So few of us look above and pay attention to the stars or planets in our daily lives; what would it be like to live among these extraordinary people in this otherworldly landscape whose gaze is totally directed upward?
Cielo is also an exploration of what a story can be. The unfolding of our narrative is more associative than logical. We reveal with juxtapositions of image and sound- for instance, the intimacy of a human moment vis-à-vis the epic scale of the night sky. Cielo is an invitation to slow down, reflect and rediscover our world, offering the audience an evocative space in which to think and imagine for themselves. Or even experience a moment of transcendence, what photographer Robert Frank calls, “the poetry behind the surfaces of things”.