To most of us, a bus stop is a place of boredom and time-killing, a border between actions, a glass and concrete shelter that provides minimal reprieve from the blazing sun or pouring rain. In Carlos Araya Díaz’s Space Journey however, the bus stop becomes a key to life in all its many colours, a vantage point from which we can observe the world as it passes by. 

Composed around a series of artfully framed bus shelters, the camera placed across the road so that it faces waiting passengers while allowing us to remain an invisible onlooker, Díaz’s film is a quietly composed, subtly stunning slice of life that uses its seemingly simplistic concept to touch on the diversity and frustrations of Chilean society.

Díaz’s way of storytelling is simply to let people speak for themselves, whether it be the couple discussing their relationship and their desire to emigrate, or the two lads practising their rap performance to a slightly bemused older woman. Similar to Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, Space Journey revolves around these snippets of conversation and chance interactions, forming a vibrant painting of a country whose bus shelters are situated anywhere from vast desert plains and gorgeous mountainscapes to lively villages and bustling cities. 

As Díaz’s portrait of his country grows, though, so do Chile’s problems. One vignette shows a bus shelter as it is besieged by armed police chasing protesters down the street, while another sees a demonstration passing by honouring the death of a young immigrant brutally treated by the government. 

Don’t be fooled by its simple premise. Space Journey is a stunning work of cinema that transcends the boundaries of documentary-making to paint a masterful portrait of a country filled with beauty and tension. It is one of the year’s very best, and should also completely change the way in which you view bus stops.



DIRECTOR: Carlos Araya Díaz

SYNOPSIS: Modern-day life in Chile is explored through a series of sequences based at bus stops across the country.