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The Pearl Button(El botón de nácar)

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France, Spain, Chile · 2015
1h 22m
Director Patricio Guzmán
Starring Patricio Guzmán, Raúl Zurita, Gabriel Salazar, Javier Rebolledo
Genre Documentary

Chile, with its 2,670 miles of coastline and the largest archipelago in the world, presents a supernatural landscape. In it are volcanoes, mountains and glaciers. In it are also the voices of the Patagonian Indigenous people, the first English sailors, and also those of its political prisoners.

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IndieWire by

The Pearl Button is a vivid, essential portal to understanding not only the heritage of a nation, but also the art of nonfiction cinema.


Village Voice by Alan Scherstuhl

The voiceover is lyric, the oceanscapes majestic, the anthropology fascinating, and the connections more quizzical and uncertain than in Nostalgia for the Light. This time you have to look harder to follow him.


The Hollywood Reporter by Deborah Young

It is the director’s extraordinary intuition about the synchronicity of history, geography and the physical universe – a mysterious relationship that has nothing to do with cause and effect – that gives the film and its predecessor their undeniable power.


Variety by Jay Weissberg

What “Nostalgia for the Light” did for the desert, The Pearl Button is meant to do for water, but the deft melding of past and present that characterized Patricio Guzman’s earlier film becomes muddied here by the Natural Science 101 voiceover and an unsatisfying bridge between two rather disparate subjects.


The Playlist by Jessica Kiang

Guzmán's essential thesis seems to be that, in turning its back on the ocean, modern Chile lost a crucial part of its identity. But he also puts forward the extraordinary idea that the water has a memory, and that if you listen closely enough, you can hear the voices of the disappeared.


The New York Times by Nicolas Rapold

A master of voice-over and metaphor (the title alone has an amazing payoff), [Mr. Guzmán] sifts through essential truths and draws links between Chile’s past and present inhabitants.


CineVue by Patrick Gamble

Inhabiting the space between fact and fiction, where repressed memories often seek refuge, The Pearl Button weaves a fascinating, yet traumatic route through Chile's recent history.

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