Patricio Guzmán’s ‘The Cordillera of Dreams’ pays homage to Chilean mountainscape

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“The Cordillera of Dreams” is a film that is at once both deeply personal and nationally relevant. The documentary serves as the final installment of filmmaker Patricio Guzmán’s trilogy about native Chile, created upon his return to the country following exile. “The Cordillera of Dreams” focuses on the mountainscape, or cordillera, of the Andes and the way that it has impacted and defined life in the surrounding areas. 

Guzmán uses the mountain range to consider the effects of the 1973 military coup, exploring the Chilean landscape in all its grandeur. With interviews from Javiera Parra, Pablo Salas and others, “The Cordillera of Dreams” draws from the experiences of other artists from the area who are struggling with the same questions of identity and legacy. As the film progresses, the mountains begin to stand for so much more, from protection to isolation, from politics to culture, from the borders of Argentina to the coup of Augusto Pinochet. Called a “documentary essay” by some, the film took home the award for Best Documentary at the Cannes Film Festival this year and marks Guzmán’s overwhelming success in his late career.  

Despite the heavy subject matter, Guzmán turns to a message of hope in the final moments of the film. “The Cordillera of Dreams” bears witness to the past while always looking toward the future; it provides a new historiography for those looking to understand and remember the sufferings of the past in order to not repeat them.

Contact Kate Tinney at [email protected]. Tweet her at @katetinney.