"Patricio Guzmán’s The Pearl Button elevates documentary to art." - Vogue
Some say that water has memory. This film gives it a voice.
Master filmmaker Patricio Guzmán has established himself as the voice of those silenced and ‘disappeared’ by the two-decade dictatorship of Chilean General Augusto Pinochet. In his previous film Nostalgia for the Light, Guzmán overlaid the ongoing search for the regime's victims with a contemplation on the unfathomable mysteries of the cosmos. Here, he finds an equally poetic metaphor in another vast universe considerably closer to home.
With his new film, The Pearl Button, Guzmán turns his eye toward the ocean to uncover the decimation of the indigenous people of Patagonia. In pre-colonial times, the nomadic Kaweskar (or “water people”) lived and thrived in harmony with the sea; today they have all but vanished. Water as the stuff of life, as a way of life, as a means of living, travelling and connecting, beckons the upheaval of memory, as we are taken on a lyrical journey through the landscape of Chile’s often hushed-up past. Interviewing the last of the Kaweskar, Guzmán chronicles the terrible devastation wrought by this almost complete genocide, discovering an unsettling parallel to the thousands who disappeared in more recent times.
Combining profound metaphysical speculation with an affecting, intimate approach, Guzmán once again asserts the importance of memory in a world very quick to forget.