The documentary Cielo is a visual tone poem about humankind’s relationship with the night sky, a philosophical exploration of the heavens above the Andes Mountains and the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. Written, directed and produced by Alison McAlpine, and shot by Benjamín Echazarreta, this contemplative and richly visualized astronomy doc combines incredible landscapes with celestial perspectives that encourage the audience to ponder its place amid the grand shrine of the cosmos.
Over the course of the movie, the filmmakers meet and spend time with professional astronomers and local residents, giving equal weight to the observations and musings of each. The masterful use of time-lapse photography, a painterly application of natural light, a deft use of in-camera “organic” effects, and an extraordinary sense of composition produce imagery that is truly mesmerizing.
The documentary received the American Cinematographer Award for Best Cinematography at the Salem Film Fest in March. Here, McAlpine discusses the making of the movie with Echazarreta, visual-effects cinematographer Mathieu Laverdière and visual-effects supervisor Philippe Toupin.
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