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Review: Cielo

August 10, 2018

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Named for the Spanish word for “heaven,” Cielo is a documentary that takes a long look at the night sky in Chile’s Atacama Desert.

Directed by Alison McAlpine, the film focuses on the scientists and astronomers who have devoted their lives to studying what goes on up above at the nearby ALMA Observatory. We are also introduced to local native residents of the area who share ancient myths and stories pertaining to the night sky that have been passed down through generations.

The film often takes on a contemplative tone, mixing these interviews with lingering shots of the night sky, including some stunning time-lapses that were shot over several days. These gorgeous images are matched by a meditative voiceover track that mixes spiritual and philosophical musings, ruminating on the meaning of the stars.

Although the somewhat slow pace and the hushed, inquisitive narration make this a film that won’t be for everyone, Cielo still serves as a worthwhile and often interesting impressionistic documentary about the night sky. The whole thing is also beautifully shot, making this the sort of film that would lend itself well to being seen on the big screen. But if you don’t get a chance to see it in theatres, it’s worth noting that Cielo will also be airing on Documentary Channel later in the year, and it still has enough going for it to be worth watching on the small screen as well.

Cielo is now playing in limited release at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, tickets and showtimes can be found right here.

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