I've Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains

Stranded, documenting the survivors of a 1972 airline crash, screens at LALIFF, Sep. 14

Published on LatinoLA: September 10, 2008

I've Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains

"Stranded" documents one of the most astonishing and inspiring survival tales of all time. On October 13, 1972, a young rugby team from Montevideo, Uruguay, boarded a plane for a match in Chile-and then vanished into thin air. Two days before Christmas, 16 of the 45 passengers miraculously resurfaced. They had managed to survive for 72 days after their plane crashed on a remote Andean glacier.

Thirty-five years later, the survivors returned to the crash site-known as the Valley of Tears - to recount their harrowing story of defiant endurance and indestructible friendship. Previously documented in the 1973 worldwide bestseller Alive (and the 1993 Ethan Hawke movie of the same name), this shocking true story finally gets the cinematic treatment it deserves. Visually breathtaking and crafted with riveting detail by documentary filmmaker (and childhood friend of the survivors) Gonzalo Arijon with a masterful combination of on-location interviews, archival footage and reenactments, Stranded is by turns hauntingly powerful and spiritually moving.

"Stranded" is an exemplary story about exceeding oneself, getting to know one another, that deals with the importance of friendship and solidarity in extreme situations. It ultimately sheds light on what the human spirit can destroy, endure and overcome - also showing that we have reservoirs of strength that are only tapped in our darkest hours.

Gonzalo Arij??n was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1956 but has lived in France since 1979. Over the past 15 years, he has directed numerous documentaries, including Lula?s Brazil: Managing a Dream; Far Very Far from Rome; The Dark Side of Milosevic; Rio de Janeiro?AVertical War; and For These Eyes, which won numerous awards at international film festivals. Arijon is a childhood friend of many of the young men featured in "Stranded".

Working on "Stranded" was a very personal experience for C?®sar Charlone (the cinematographer of City of God, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award), as he comes from Uruguay and was scheduled to be on the same plane as the rugby team. Charlone was almost on Flight 571 himself. He went to the same college as the survivors (his father was the Uruguayan ambassador to Chile) and Nando was his best friend. He was on the passenger list for the flight but he was en route from Brazil and didn't get to Monevideo in time to catch the plane.

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