Nostalgia for the Light (2010) — Chile
The Atacama Desert on Chile's Pacific coast is by some accounts the driest place on earth; some weather stations there have never recorded any rain at all. Because the air is so dry and the skies are so clear of any artificial light, Atacama has attracted astronomers from around the world: "science fell in love with the sky," notes one person interviewed for this documentary. Then there are the archaeologists of Atacama who study the thousand-year-old rock carvings. The sands of Atacama hold still other secrets, too, namely, the mass graves and concentration camps of the Pinochet dictatorship. Most of this film, then, is devoted to the women who for thirty years have sifted the desert sands in search of their loved ones, who, if found, have been remarkably preserved and mummified by the dry soil. Human memory exerts its own gravitational force, drawing people back to the Atacama to make peace with their national history.