The experimental documentary “Cielo,” directed by Canadian Alison McAlpine with cinematography by Benjamin Echazarreta, humbly marvels at the vastness of the night sky over the Atacama Desert in Chile.
Balancing science, folklore and spirituality, the film blends kaleidoscopic night shots, time-lapses and “organic effects” with observational portraits of desert residents, algae collectors, miners and cowboys, alongside scientists and “planet hunters” working the giant telescopes at Las Campanas, La Silla and Paranal observatories.
It should come as no surprise that McAlpine has a background in poetry. The sky is a naturally lyrical subject and the film is full of contemplative shots, displaying a rich visual language. It’s structured in a way that punctuates the stanza-like, expressionistic sketches with a refrain of dreamlike imagery. McAlpine narrates the film in English, while interviewing her subjects in Spanish and French, adding a linguistic flourish.
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