The Last Trace | Chicago Reader

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In the southernmost region of Chile, two elderly sisters are the last of the Yanama people, whose culture will effectively die out with them. While it has many powerful moments, Paola Castillo's 2001 video is indifferently organized and suffers from key omissions: it leaves the disappearance of the tribe largely unexplained (intermarriage seems to have played a part) and fails to point out that theirs is just one of many vanishing languages. But there's one deeply moving motif: a recording session in which one sister translates Spanish words into her native language is followed by “picture dictionary” sequences in which words like “sea” and “sky” are defined by images in a way that illustrates how language shapes our perceptions—so that the loss of a language is also the loss of an entire way of knowing. In Spanish with subtitles. 65 min.

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