CCA will debut Anna Sofaer’s new film, Written on the Landscape: Mysteries Beyond Chaco Canyon

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, May 20, 2024 –Since establishing the non-profit Solstice Project in 1978, Anna Sofaer has spearheaded groundbreaking endeavors, including producing peer-reviewed research papers and illuminating documentaries that have aired on PBS to shed light on an ancient Southwestern civilization steeped in complex cosmology.

The Center for Contemporary Arts is pleased to honor the decades of achievements of The Solstice Project by screening all of Anna Sofaer’s films the week of June 7-13, debuting her latest film project, holding a filmmaker discussion, and hosting a series of expert panels on June 9 organized by the Solstice Project to discuss how our understanding of this ancient past can illuminate the present and future action across the region.

About the Debut of Written on the Landscape

Anna Sofaer’s new film Written on the Landscape: Mysteries Beyond Chaco Canyon (2024), will be screened five times in the CCA Cinema June 7-13. This film continues the exploration of discovery of the Chaco Canyon world of magnificent architecture that flourished 1000 years ago, unveiling Sofaer and the Solstice Project’s latest revelations.

The film illustrates new ground-breaking research, gathered using aerial imagery, precise surveying techniques, and LiDAR (aerial laser scanning,) showing the immense region of the Chaco world extending from the heart of Chaco Canyon across 70,000 square miles of the American Southwest — a vast high desert expanse known as the Four Corners. Insights offered by Puebloan advisers combined with a new understanding of Mesoamerican parallels for cardinal directions, the interplay of vertical and horizontal axes, ritual ‘roads’, cacao, shells, spirals, and the sun and moon.

“People with extraordinary expertise in astronomy, geology, and archaeology have given generously to our studies,” says Sofaer. “Visiting with Puebloan descendants has deepened my knowledge and inspired me through the years. They have encouraged our research into the science of their ancestors and offered sensitive insights into their historical and spiritual connections with Chaco. It is their insights that create the story of our new film.”

On Friday, June 7, the film’s editor, Christopher Beaver, will attend the 5pm screening, and offer a brief introduction. Following the film, Paul Barnes will conduct an interview with Christopher about the making of the film and have a Q&A with the audience.

On Thursday, June 13, producer Anna Sofaer will attend the 5pm screening, and offer a brief introduction. Following the film, Paul Barnes will conduct an interview with Anna and a Q&A with the audience.

Click here for more information and tickets.

Retrospective of Chaco films

From June 7 through 13, CCA will screen both of The Solstice Project’s previous films in the CCA Studio.

The Sun Dagger (1982) is a testament to Sofaer’s pioneering work, showcasing the intricate celestial architecture of ancient North American Indians. Hailed as an astronomical marvel comparable to the Pyramids and Stonehenge, the film unveiled the profound scientific knowledge of the Chacoan culture.

Click here for more information and tickets.

The Mystery of Chaco Canyon (1999) delved deeper into the enigmas of Chaco, revealing a civilization that meticulously designed and constructed ceremonial buildings aligned with celestial patterns. Far from a mere trade center, Chaco Canyon emerged as a crucible of astronomy and cosmology, where the landscape itself spoke the language of an ordered universe.

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About the Expert Panels

On Sunday, June 9, The Solstice Project will convene three panels in the CCA Gallery next door to the Cinema.

10am – How Vast the Chaco World: Seeing and Creating from Above
Panel: Anna Sofaer, Rich Friedman, Adriel Hesiey, Petuuche Gilbert, Elena Ortiz
1pm – Tropics to Desert: Power in the Land and “Roads”
Panel: Alonso Mendez, Robert Weiner, Rich Friedman, Petuuche Gilbert
4pm – Chaco a Center of Dualities – Sun and Moon, Light and Dark: Learning from and Protecting Chaco
Panel: Philip Tuwaletstiwa, Anna Sofaer, Pat Sandoval, Brian Vallo

Click here for more detail on these panels and to download the schedule.

The panels are free, but The Solstice Project is requesting that attendees RSVP.

Click HERE to RSVP.

About the Solstice Project:

The Solstice Project studies the rich astronomical heritage of the ancient Chaco culture in the American Southwest. Founded in 1978 by Anna Sofaer, the non-profit organization publishes peer-reviewed research papers and produces award-winning films that document the Chaco culture’s scientific achievements.

Hear the May 26 interview between Anna Sofaer and Lorene Mills on Report from Santa Fe on KENW NM PBS. Click here.

See The Solstice Project websites for more information and links to research:
Media Contacts:
Cecile Lipworth for The Solstice Project
Paul Barnes for CCA