The Cordillera of Dreams (2019)

  • 1h 25m
  • Patricio Guzmán
  • Chile, France
  • 2019

A beautiful film about nightmares that have yet to end.

The Andes Cordillera, the huge snowy mountain range that divides Chile from its eastern neighbour, is a defining influence on the psyche of this ancient and idiosyncratic nation.

It’s also the inspiration for Patricio Guzmán’s mournfully intelligent and poetic film, which completes the trilogy begun with Nostalgia for the Light and The Pearl Button.

In his Cannes-awarded The Cordillera of Dreams, Patricio Guzmán searches for some kind of meaning in a link between the mountains and the human horrors that Chileans lived through with the Pinochet regime.

Guzmán fled Chile after being arrested and threatened with execution during the rule of fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet.

The Cordillera of Dreams shares his sense of alienation as an expatriate artist, and the strangeness he feels in returning to a country he no longer really recognises. What Guzmán finds hurts him most is the normalcy hiding hypocrisy — or perhaps the notion that those who participated in the horrors really did, and still do, believe they were acting for the country’s good. 

Guzmán uses the figure of the Andes
as a metaphorical means of pondering
how the people in charge of safeguarding a country
can also end up being the people who destroy it.

— Jessica Kiang, Variety

Another documentary maker, Pablo Salas, stayed, and documented both the innumerable crimes perpetrated by the Pinochet regime and the people’s resistance. Here Guzmán celebrates Salas’ work, precious because it has made it “impossible to erase history” for future generations. Guzmán hints that the time may have come for both his and Salas’ watch to conclude. Chile is starting to remember.

At times heart-rendingly personal, the film is also a high-wire act of philosophical enquiry — a scathing condemnation of the social amnesia still afflicting the people of Chile, and their reluctance to revisit the wounds still gaping 30 years after the end of Pinochet’s rule.

The Cordillera of Dreams serves above all as a wake-up call to the new generations, urging them to give Chile back its happy childhood.

Previous festival selections include:
Cannes Film Festival, winner: Oeil D’Or, Documentary Prize; The Beatrice Satori Award
TIFF Toronto International Film Festival
IDFA International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam

Read the Variety review of The Cordillera of Dreams here
Read the Film Comment review of The Cordillera of Dreams here
Read the Sounds and Colours interview with The Cordillera of Dreams director Patricio Guzmán here


Patricio Guzmán



You may also like

  • 43min
  • Richard Sidey
  • New Zealand
  • 2020
How to Steal a Country
  • 1h 33m
  • Rehad Desai
  • South Africa
  • 2019
Love Child
  • 1h 52m
  • Eva Mulvad
  • Denmark
  • 2019
  • 1h 29m
  • Mira Burt-Wintonick
  • Canada
  • 2019
Your Turn
  • 1h 33m
  • Eliza Capai
  • Brazil
  • 2019