Dear Antonella,I hope these words stood firm against the relentless Atacama to find you, and I hope they found you well. The sun continues to parch the desert, and the mines buzz with activity like never before. Nitrate died while copper thrived, killing one town while building another.Augusto Pinochet’s most inhumane act, of using the desolate mine of Chacabuco as a concentration camp against those who defied him, triggered a spatial caution. It made civilians fit every void of the nascent ghost towns with a new infrastructure: One needing no man to ever watch over.To this day, people continue to thrust my children with memory banks like a form of taxidermy that slowly turns to a digital cancer. All that remain in these rusty ruins are the faint hum of our memories, silenced by the machines’ drive.*I still remember the group of people, gathered in the hospital corridor at Humberstone, waiting to catch a glimpse of you when you were born. “Ella es tan bella,” your mother said, with tears in her eyes, and beautiful you were indeed. It was a shame that years later, she died right next door to the room that she birthed you in. I’m sure she’s in a better place now, like they always say.
My dear, I hope you can find it in you to forgive me, as I cannot keep that promise any longer. The death of me means the death of the land I brought life to.
On Loa's Promise:Joshua Dawson received his Master's in Advanced Architectural Studies at USC, and studied under the esteemed Hollywood production designer Alex McDowell (Minority Report). He says he was inspired to make Loa's Promise after coming into contact with the regional history of the Atacama."After reading about the oasis town of Quillagua in the Atacama Desert in Chile, where people were forced to leave their homes and lives behind because mining companies stole their water, I felt driven to make Loa’s Promise," he says. "A film that aims to raise awareness of the consequences of deregulated resource extraction in free-market economies like Chile—consequences that could soon affect much of the world—Loa’s Promise blends CGI with footage captured on location to illustrate that, while technological advancements can transform our world, it comes at a cost."Here's how he describes the backdrop to Loa's Promise in detail:
Chile has had a tumultuous political and economic history. After dictator Augusto Pinochet’s reign ended in 1990, the country adopted a market-based allocation system for water, relinquishing state oversight and allowing corporations to take control. Over the years, thriving industries began to monopolize the resources in the mineral-rich Atacama Desert in order to fuel their economic expansion. In combination with excessive mining activity, this has led to drought and the contamination of watercourses in local communities, including in the Loa Province. Just as the nitrate and copper mining towns in the desert were abandoned post-mineral extraction, the oasis town of Quillagua, reliant on the depleted and polluted Loa River, now faces a similar fate…
Loa’s Promise envisions the outcome of this situation, presenting an alternate history and hypothetical future, where the desert’s abandoned nitrate towns have been retrofitted as data centers and digital mines, to efface troubled memories. Arid and abandoned, Chacabuco (formerly a concentration camp under Pinochet) and other ghost towns take on a new purpose, the quiet hum of technology drowning out the echoes of the past. By portraying the endangered town of Quillagua as threaded to a network of the region’s ghost towns, the film aims to raise awareness of the consequences of deregulated resource extraction in free-market economies like Chile—consequences that could soon affect much of the world.