Which film touched you the most

Nostalgia de la Luz
- nostalgia for light

A film by Patricio Guzmán

Release date: December 23, 2010


city  movie theater  meeting  info   
Aachen   Apollo  19.09.2011    
Bochum  German Mining Museum  26.01.2012    
Bonn  Bread factory  9.-14.09.2011    
Dortmund  Cinema in the U  23.02. + 26.02.2012    
Erftstadt  VHS  13.09.2011    
Freiburg  Communal cinema  11.02. + 12.02.2012    
Hanover  Communal cinema  12.-14.12.+15.12.2011  School cinema   
Leverkusen  Communal cinema  21.09.2011    



NOSTALGIA DE LA LUZ is an essayistic documentary whose range of topics develops in the course of the film as a very poetic parable between astronomy and the history of Chile over the past 50 years. The film derives its strength and fascination primarily from the author's texts and from the fantastic images of the desert and the starry sky in Chile.

Six international astronomical observatories are in operation in the vast expanse of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. These gigantic observation stations of space, stars and distant galaxies are state-of-the-art and have the most extensive research capacity available today. Scientists search for the youngest lights of the universe in the most ancient prehistoric times in order to learn more about the future of terrestrial humans.

Just a stone's throw from them, the families of Pinochet's victims dig up the earth in the mass graves with their bare hands. They are looking for the bodies of their “disappeared”. They need traces of an as yet unexplained past in order to invent a future for themselves and their children.

In Santiago, the capital, the government is also looking for wealth and economic success. She has dedicated herself to this task with heart and soul and hopes to find success in the material development of the country. She completely forgets the past of Chile. These three searches are the linchpin of the documentary NOSTALGIA DE LA LUZ.



The protagonists

Victoria & Violeta: Two women in search of loved ones Your relatives were killed by Pinochet's junta and then buried in the desert sand. So far only a few bones of her bones have been found. For 28 years now, the two women have been digging with their shovels in the desert; they have never given up the search and will keep searching until their last breath. You are dignified and beautiful.

Lautaro: The experienced archaeologist He knows the desert like the back of his hand. He has eyes like a lynx and a feeling for what is hidden in the earth. He woke millennia-old mummies from their slumber, he knows their language. Deeply touched by the fate of the missing, he passed on his experiences to the women affected. He showed them how to watch every single grain of sand to see if a corpse was buried beneath the surface.

Gaspar: The young astronomer Gaspar was born after the coup. During the dictatorship he studied astronomy in Santiago. His grandfather taught him his love for the stars and mathematics ("You cannot get to the stars without mathematics, that is a scientific law"). In addition to observing the sky, he analyzes the recent history of his country with open eyes. He loves people and stars.

Miguel: The memory architect Miguel survived five concentration camps. He burned the floor plan of all five camps into his memory, and as soon as he was able to go into exile, he made precise drawings of each camp out of his head so that no Chilean would ever be able to say: "I didn't know anything about it ".

Luís: The amateur astronomer he learned to read the stars in the concentration camp. He is a simple man who has the great gift of building astronomical instruments out of a few things. He wages a silent battle against oblivion.

Valentina: The Star Daughter Although her parents are Desaparecidos, Valentina seems the most carefree of all the characters in the film. She looks refreshingly cheerful at the events that have shaped her life. She grew up with her grandparents and learned from them to watch the sky. Astronomy helped her make her peace with the disappearance of her parents.



Director's comment

The Atacama Desert

The desert is an infinite, timeless space made of salt and wind. A piece of Mars on earth. Nothing moves there. And yet this stretch of land bears numerous mysterious traces of the past: two thousand year old village ruins, stranded wagons that were left behind by the miners of the 19th century. And then there are the huge domes, which are reminiscent of crashed spaceships and in which the astronomers go about their work. Human relics can be found everywhere. When night falls, the Milky Way shines so brightly that it casts shadows on the ground.

The invisible present

For an astronomer, the only time that really matters is the time that comes from the past. It takes the light of the stars hundreds of thousands of years to reach us. That is why astronomers always look back. The same is true of historians, archaeologists, geologists, paleontologists, and the women searching for their missing loved ones. They all have one thing in common: they deal with the past in order to better understand the present and the future. Because we don't know what tomorrow will be, only the past can illuminate us.

Invisible memory

Memory keeps us alive, much like the warmth of the sun. Without memory, we humans would be nothing but dead shells, without history and without a future. After 18 years of dictatorship, Chile is practicing democracy again. But at what price? Many have lost their friends, relatives, homes, schools and universities. Others have lost their memories, maybe forever.



Short biography of Patricio Guzmán

Patricio Guzmán was born in Santiago de Chile in 1941. During his studies at the Film School in Madrid, he specialized in documentation. His films are regularly shown at international festivals and have been awarded prizes. In 1973 Guzmán shot La Batalla de Chile (The Battle for Chile), a five-hour trilogy about the rise and fall of Salvador Allende, which the American film magazine Cineaste called "one of the ten best political films in the world". After the military coup, Guzmán was arrested and held for two weeks in the football stadium in Santiago, where he was repeatedly tortured with fake executions. In the same year he left the country and emigrated first to Cuba, later to Spain and France, where he made other films: En nombre de Dios (In the Name of God) (about the role of the Catholic Church under dictator Pinochet), La Cruz del Sur (The Southern Cross) (on popular religion in Latin America), Barriers of Solitude (on the historical memory of a small Mexican village), Chile, la Memoria Obstinada (Chile, the indomitable memory) (on political amnesia in Chile), El Caso Pinochet (The Pinochet Case) (on the Pinochet trial in London and Santiago), Madrid (a trip to the heart of the city), Salvador Allende (a personal portrait) and 2005 Mon Jules Verne (My Jules Verne ). Between 2006 and 2010 he worked on Nostalgia de la Luz and made a total of five short films on the subjects of astronomy and historical memory. Guzmán is director of the International Documentary Film Festival in Santiago de Chile (FIDOCS), which he founded in 1997.

Filmography Patricio Guzmán

Salvador Allende Official Selection Cannes Film Festival 2004

El Caso Pinochet International Critics' Week, Cannes Film Festival 2001 Grand Prize, Documentary Film Festival Marseille 2001 Golden Gate Award, San Francisco Film Festival 2002

Chile, la Memoria Obstinada Grand Prize, Florence Film Festival 1997 Grand Prize, Tel Aviv Film Festival 1999 Grand Prize, Yorkton Film Festival 1998 Golden Spire, San Francisco Film Festival 1998 Best Documentary, Hot Docs Festival 1998 Silver Dove, Leipzig Documentary Festival 1999

La Cruz del Sur Grand Prize, Documentary Film Festival Marseille 1992 Grand Prize, Amiens International Film Festival 1992 1st Prize Category Contemporary History, Valladolid Film Festival 1992 Spirit of Freedom Award, Jerusalem Film Festival 1994

La Batalla de Chile Grand Prize, Grenoble Film Festival 1975-1976 Grand Prize, Benalmádena Film Festival 1976 Grand Prize, Brussels Film Festival 1977 Jury Prize, Leipzig Festival for Documentary Film 1977 Grand Prize, Festival of New Latin American Film 1979 Director's Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival 1975-1976 Berlinale Film Forum 1975-1976-1979



Conversation between Frederick Wiseman and Patricio Guzmán

Frederick Wiseman is a key figure in documentary cinema. For forty years the director has illuminated and questioned the basic values ​​of American society in around thirty films. As a longtime friend of Patricio Guzmán, whose work he has followed from the beginning, he talks to his younger colleague about his film Nostalgia de la Luz.

Wiseman: I don't want to explain the film. We are welcome to talk about the subject of the film, but without giving any explanations.

Guzmán: We could talk about the desert.

Wiseman: Or about the women you have so much respect for. The film has some very strong metaphors. I know you don't like to talk about it, but you used multiple metaphors for both the desert and the women. The women search the desert floor and the astronomers the sky.

Guzmán: What are you more interested in, archeology or astronomy?

Wiseman: I'm most interested in metaphors. The relationship between the astronomers and the women in your film.

Guzmán: These metaphors have their origin in the geographical symmetry of this area, which I love very much. I went there more than once during the Allende reign, but never again since. Nevertheless, I had vivid memories of this place and its unusual contrasts. On the one hand the younger, still active mines and on the other hand the long-abandoned mines of the 19th century, the remains of which are still there. Even in Allende's time, the miners used ancient steam engines and made the spare parts for necessary repairs themselves. What I found most astonishing, however, were the mummies: first you suddenly stumble upon industrial fragments that take you back to the last century, and then a few meters further you come across an ancient mummy and suddenly find yourself in the time of Christopher Columbus. The old machines take you back to the industrial age; the mummies take you much deeper into the past and the telescopes even further - to a time millions of light years away! So I believe the essence of the film stems from a series of metaphors that existed long before I arrived in the desert. The metaphors were already there, I just captured them with the camera.

Wiseman: I see it differently. You are the one who saw the metaphors. You brought them to life and gave them a language.

Guzmán: Maybe. But it was the women who inspired me to do so. When I read in the newspaper that they were digging their own hands in the desert floor at the foot of the observatories, I made up my mind to make this film and to use very direct and blunt language for it.

Wiseman: Still, you decided against making a purely observational film.

Guzmán: The truth is, I didn't want to give a "description of the desert". I was looking for new elements that I could use to talk about the past once more. And so I first concentrated on the observatories. As a teenager, I was already fascinated by astronomy. The stars were my passion. Unfortunately, I was pretty bad at math and would never have dared to study such a subject. But in the fifties and sixties, I devoured every book on astronomy I could get my hands on. An Argentine magazine ("Más Allá") published a list of the standard works at that time. But the most exciting thing for me at the time was a visit to the Santiago observatory. I had announced us on the phone with the whole class and when the three of us finally showed up, the chief astronomer asked in astonishment: "What happened to the others?". I whispered to him that we had an exam the next day ... I will never forget that night to this day. We watched the moon and a twinkling cluster of stars called Herschel's jewelry box. The telescope at that time was the same one that can be seen at the beginning of the film, the German "Hayde" telescope, built in 1910.

Wiseman: You also venture into the realm of archeology.

Guzmán: My first friend was an archaeologist. She did research at the Natural History Museum in Santiago, home of the whale skeleton, which can also be seen in the film. From her I learned how to classify fossils and stones found in the desert. At that time she was working on excavations very close to our location. What fascinated me most, however, was her story about a mummy that she found during an excavation with Gustave Le Paige, an elderly Belgian priest and at the time the shining light in the field of ethnology and archeology in Chile. Maybe it was because those memories were so vivid in me that filming seemed so effortless. It was like a trip back to a beautiful youth. And the metaphors you mentioned earlier didn't catch my eye until I started shooting. You are not in the script. At least not explicitly. Maybe that's why we had such big problems securing funding.

Wiseman: I can imagine.

Guzmán: I fought for four years to make this project a reality. In the meantime, I was about to give up, but the subject was so powerful that I couldn't possibly drop it. In front of me was a dense tangle of threads, all of which ran in different directions and raised a lot of questions that gnawed at me. The film shows very different perspectives: It is metaphysical, mystical or spiritual, astronomical, ethnographic and political ... How can one explain that human bones are the same as certain asteroids? Or that the calcium that makes up our skeleton is the same calcium found in stars? That a star that is born at the time of our death is formed from our atoms? How can one talk about the fact that Chile is home to the world's largest astronomical research center, while 60 percent of the murders committed by the dictatorship are still unsolved? That Chilean astronomers observe stars that are millions of light years away, while the children in their school books do not learn anything about the events in their country that were just 30 years ago? How do you explain that countless corpses buried by the military were dug up again and thrown into the sea? How do you show that the search of a woman who digs through the earth with her bare hands is like the work of an astronomer ...?

Wiseman: I like what you say because it doesn't explain the film in any way.

Guzmán: I don't even want to explain it, but rather question it. I always ask myself a lot of questions. And with this film I wanted to open doors, like a scientist who asks questions about the origin of life. I am convinced that science still has a huge area in store for future documentaries. Unfortunately, certain ideas, analogies, or concepts are currently rejected by the documentary film industry. Unusual, atypical, innovative ideas are apparently not wanted at the moment. We work in an industry that is becoming more and more intolerant and that drives us to create stereotypes. It literally pulls us into a black hole.

Wiseman: The Chilean society is sinking more and more into a state of almost total darkness, because while the country is working on its image as an economic miracle nation, we learn nothing about the worries of the common people.

Guzmán: Eight years ago, two Chilean astronomers succeeded in producing definitive evidence of a black hole in the center of the Milky Way. A black hole that passes in the sky over Chile every night.

Wiseman: Another metaphor.

Guzmán: The desert is full of it! Without wanting to lead you into questionable terrain, but many people have observed UFOs in the desert, including pilots who were chased by flying saucers. But that shouldn't be our topic now. I want to tell you a story that is also a metaphor. One of the archaeologists I met while filming the film wanted to build a hut in the middle of the desert to be closer to his excavations. So the workers started digging the ground. But already in the first week they came across something strange sticking out of the earth. They called the archaeologist who realized they wanted to build the hut over a grave.As they continued digging, they uncovered a mummy hung with jewelry and an ax across the chest. It must have been an important person, a leader. The archaeologist stopped work and went off to think. One afternoon he stepped up to the mummy and said, "We have to come to an agreement. Your real home from now on will be the museum where we will take you to explore your family, your people and your culture. Then is this place free for my hut. " A week later the mummy agreed and became the most important object of investigation in a hitherto unknown culture in the museum. The archaeologist, on the other hand, continued his conversation with the mummy, for sometimes, when he was sitting in his hut, the door would open and shut, although there was no breeze outside.

Wiseman: What a wonderful story!

Paris, March 22, 2010



Chile - data and facts astronomy, politics, human rights

1962 A group of American and European scientists explored the Atacama Desert as a possible location for astronomical observatories.

1967 The first observatory is inaugurated on Cerro Tololo. A little later, astronomers will see the Antlia galaxy for the first time from here, a discovery that will later make it possible to calculate the age of the universe.

1969 Construction of the second La Silla observatory. First research on planets outside our solar system: "Is there life elsewhere in the universe?". In Santiago de Chile, Salvador Allende is running a radical program in the presidential elections.

1970 Allende is elected president with 36 percent of the vote. He nationalized the copper and saltpeter mines as well as other mines in the desert. In Stockholm, Pablo Neruda receives the Nobel Prize for Literature. A third observatory called Las Campanas will be put into operation in the Atacama Desert.

1972 The Popular Front government divides Chilean society into supporters and opponents of Allende's reforms. The country is on the brink of civil war. From the US, Nixon and Kissinger are trying to weaken the Chilean economy and destabilize Chile.

1973 Allende's coalition achieved a 43.4 percent share of the vote in the parliamentary elections. There is a coup by the right and the military. Allende dies in the government palace. With the support of the USA, Augusto Pinochet seized power and led the country with an iron fist for the next 18 years. In October 1973 he had 75 opponents of the regime executed in the Atacama Desert (in Calama and other villages).

1976 Far from the political events, the largest telescope in the southern hemisphere is installed in the Tololo Observatory.

1979 The women of Calama secretly organize the search for the bodies of their loved ones.

1980 The military government enacts a new constitution and implements neoliberal economic reforms. There are massive protests among the population. The preliminary results of the dictatorship: 3,000 dead and missing, 35,000 victims of torture, 800 secret prisons and a repression apparatus with 3,500 police officers who are responsible for the persecution of opponents of the regime. A million Chileans live in exile.

1986 Pinochet barely escapes an attack organized by a left resistance group. Halley's Comet appears in the sky over Chile. The US space shuttle Challenger explodes seconds after takeoff.

1987 The women of Calama go public with their search. A team of archaeologists shows them how to dig. The women will not give up until they find the remains of the missing. Only then can they mourn them.

1988 Pinochet experienced a defeat in a referendum that was supposed to confirm him in office. Two years later he had to give up the affairs of government, but remained Senator for life and Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

1990 The Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin becomes the first democratically elected president after Pinochet. A mass grave with the bones of 26 of the disappeared is discovered near Calama. 19 more skeletons are recovered in the port city of Pisagua. The Hubble Space Telescope is launched.

1998 The Very Large Telescope (VLT) is installed on Cerro Paranal. It has a radioactive clock that can be used to measure the age of stars for the first time. Astronomers discover the world's oldest star 13,200 million light years from Earth. At the same time, Pinochet was arrested in London on an international arrest warrant. Genocide, terrorism and torture are charged. Meanwhile, 15 more bodies are being exhumed near the desert city of La Serena.

1999 Pinochet returns to the Chilean capital after 500 days in prison in Great Britain.

2002 The Gemini observatory opens on Cerro Pachón in the Atacama Desert. The first images of an extrasolar planet are taken in the Paranal observatory.

2003 In the La Silla observatory, 20 extrasolar planets (so-called exoplanets) are discovered with the HARPS spectrograph. The search for celestial bodies with extraterrestrial life is intensified.

2004 The women of Calama unveil a memorial to the 26 murdered prisoners. But as long as the bodies of all missing are not recovered, they will find no rest.

2006 The socialist Michelle Bachelet becomes the first female president of Chile. In the US, 25 bank accounts in Pinochet are discovered, with a total deposit of 28 million dollars, stolen funds from the Chilean treasury. Pinochet dies in Santiago without being tried.

2007 An exoplanet that resembles Earth is spotted in the La Silla observatory: Gliese 581. There may be water there in liquid form, the prerequisite for life.

2008 The bodies of three other missing persons are found not far from Almagro in the Atacama Desert. A small group of women continue their search. The Paranal and La Silla observatories confirm the existence of a black hole in the middle of the Milky Way. Night after night this black hole moves across the Chilean desert.

2010 The candidate of the conservative party Sebastián Piñera wins the presidential elections. One of the strongest earthquakes in living memory (8.8 on the Richter scale) devastated southern Chile.