Documentary maker Patricio Guzman—who’s borne witness to the Chilean coup with The Battle of Chile (1978), Chile, Obstinate Memory (1997), The Pinochet Case (2001), and Salvador Allende (2004)—looks heavenward with this entrancing essay film (2010). An astronomy buff since childhood, Guzman travels to the Atacama Desert, whose incredibly clear skies have made it home to two major observatories, and ponders some staggering views of the galaxy. But his gaze soon returns to earth: the region’s extreme lack of moisture not only prevents cloud cover but preserves the dead, which has made the Atacama a destination for archaeologists as well as astronomers. And the desert’s recent history as a dumping ground for Pinochet’s murder victims returns Guzman to the great subject of his career. Because of the time light takes to reach earth, Guzman reminds us, we’re always looking at history when we gaze into the night sky; the challenge of reckoning with the past becomes a grand and powerful theme, unifying the celestial, the terrestrial, and the political. In Spanish with subtitles.