Cielo is a cinematic reverie on the crazy beauty of the night sky, as experienced in the Atacama Desert, Chile, one of the best places on our planet to explore and contemplate its splendour. Director Alison McAlpine’s sublime nonfiction film drifts between science and spirituality, the arid land, desert shores and lush galaxies, expanding the limits of our earthling imaginations. Planet Hunters in the Atacama's astronomical observatories and the desert dwellers who work the land and sea share their evocative visions of the stars and planets, their mythic stories and existential queries with remarkable openness and a contagious sense of wonder. A love poem for the night sky, Cielo transports us to a space, quiet and calm, within which we can ponder the infinite and unknown.

Director's Notes

Cielo is a film born from the emotion of seeing the night sky in the Atacama Desert, Chile. I had never seen such beauty and felt a profound freedom inside, so many questions arose. I set off on a journey in this desert to explore and discover what we call sky. Few of us look above and pay attention to the stars or planets in our daily lives; what would it be like to live in this otherworldly landscape where even the earth is gazing upward?

Cielo is a conversation with the stars and an encounter with the desert dwellers and scientists I spent time with while journeying in this isolated region of Chile. Cielo is also an exploration of what a story can be. Traditional narrative notions of plot development, dramatic arc, character exposition etc hold no interest for me. 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.

And the film’s narration is like a poem, the voice and writing hopefully natural, working directly, emotionally like music. My wish is that Cielo allows us to lose our sense of time in the film sky and rediscover our world, offering fellow travellers 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”.


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