Space Journey


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Space Journey
"The documentarian finds a rhythm along with a gradually building theme concerning travellers and migres in these liminal spaces."

Some stand empty, slightly askew, some look as though they could be small wooden chapels, while others are slathered in graffiti and filled with people - all of them are the many and varied bus stops of Chile, caught on camera in Carlos Araya Díaz's quirky documentary.

They appear in locked off shots, as Díaz and his cinematographer Adolfo Messiah record the day-to-day conversations and encounters within them. In one night-time shot a person suddenly appears from the shadows, in another we meet wannabe rappers The Guerillas of the Desert, in others there are declarations of love or discussion of the news. Reminiscent of the work of James Benning and with a similar eye for connection and the absurd, Díaz intercuts the various stops across the country with occasional snapshots of life seen at close quarters - passengers on the bus, a hospital reception, a succession of dogs identified mostly by fur.

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The documentarian finds a rhythm along with a gradually building theme concerning travellers and migres in these liminal spaces. In a couple of returned-to encounters, we see tourists interacting with locals, in others migrants become the topic of conversation - not usually in glowing terms. We see, however, how the abstract opinions about migrants as 'a group' differs sharply from the more positive way in which people interact on a personal level when they encounter a foreigner.

The inclusion of references to Joane Florvil - a Haitian migrant who died from a blow to the head in police custody after wrongful arrest in 2017 - adds a poignancy in the current moment of the Black Lives Matter movement, although it is just one story in the bigger picture Díaz paints. The title, Space Journey (or Space Travel), is appropriate as each encounter opens up a window to a universe of its own, caught in a moment away from the comings and goings of the rest of the world.

Reviewed on: 17 Jun 2020
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Observational documentary captures snapshots of bus stops across Chile and the people who wait there.

Director: Carlos Araya Díaz

Year: 2019

Runtime: 62 minutes

Country: Chile


Doc/Fest 2020

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