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12:30   6:40

Must End Thursday, September 6


Set in Chile’s Atacama Desert, CIELO explores the sublime night sky, employing an elegant, unusual use of time-lapse photography to capture the movements of a breathtaking astronomical tableau. Filmmaker Alison McAlpine’s thoughtful narration and the ambient sounds of the desert are blended with otherworldly music and affecting moments of deep silence. The resulting meditation on the heavens is a mystical paean to the beauty of the sky and an inspiring vision of a universe that we both see and cannot see. The Atacama – with its high-altitude setting (between the Andes and Chilean Coast Mountains), aridity (the driest non-polar place in the world, receiving an average of only .6 inches of rain per year), and near-complete lack of cloud cover and light pollution – is an ideal place to appreciate the firmament. CIELO is a distinctively cinematic reverie on these night skies, as experienced by astronomers at the La Silla, Paranal, and Las Campanas observatories, as well as local farmers, cowboys, and miners.

CANADA / CHILE    2018    78 MINS.


“One of the Best Documentaries of 2018 (So Far). A cinematic rumination on the majesty of everything that surrounds us.”
– Nick Schager, Esquire

“Eye-popping. Exquisite. The images in the film are unmatched by any Hollywood blockbuster. Revealing a generosity, zeal and delight here, (the film) suggests the cosmos may not be as cold as some think.”
– Jordan Hoffman, Village Voice

“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

CIELO is the very definition of a tone poem. The true stars of the film - terrible pun intended - are McAlpine’s images of the sky. A sweepingly visual film.”
– Anna Storm, Film Journal

“A rapturous act of cinematic contemplation. Should entrance all those who enter its unique atmosphere. Breathtaking time-lapse images of the sky. Vistas… (that) convey the ecstatic and daunting beauty of our universe. This majestic movie… looks up in order to look within.”
– Nick Schager, Variety

“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

“Numerous images of transcendent beauty. A visual symphony of the moon, stars, sun and clouds as they move through the wild blue yonder. Seen on a big screen, these images…have a transporting power that comes close to approximating what it must be like to actually stand in Atacama, gazing up in awe. Even the Milky Way itself rotates through the heavens with breathtaking clarity.”
– Keith Uhlich, The Hollywood Reporter

Film Forum