Cinebanter

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Saturday, June 07, 2008

SIFF SIGHTING: STRANDED: I'VE COME FROM A PLANE THAT CRASHED IN THE MOUNTAINS (documentary; France)

stranded
If you've ever wondered how powerful the will to live can be, see this documentary.

Director Gonzalo Arijon tells the amazing tale of survival of the famous Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes in 1972. Because of the severe conditions on the mountains at the time of the accident (it was October), the official search was called off after the first week and the 45 passengers on board were assumed dead...but only 16 had actually perished in the crash. Over two months later, another 16 would be rescued and live to tell the story.

Since that time, the book and film Alive have retold their story, but never before have the survivors come together as they did for this film, to recount the harrowing 72 days they spent starving, praying, grieving and hoping their hell would come to an end.

Because the director is a friend of many of the men, their talking-head interviews seem all the more intimate. The remarkable way the survivors remain composed when speaking of the most awful of human atrocities (resorting to cannibalism to stay alive, for example) is nothing short of amazing, and the fact they had the courage to revisit the "Valley of Tears" (the name for the site of the accident now) and take their children there, was indisputably courageous.

Most haunting is the archival footage of their rescue and the lasting photographs the survivors snapped throughout their ordeal. It's like being a part of a living, breathing, scrapbook of trauma.

Seldom does a film truly make you appreciate the warm bed you have to sleep in, the food on your table and the casual luxuries of civilization. This one certainly does.

STRANDED: I'VE COME FROM A PLANE THAT CRASHED IN THE MOUNTAINS screened at the 34th Annual Seattle International Film Festival, which continues through June 15th.

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