Nonetheless, he landed the cooperation of 11 survivors and began filming with the help of another person intimately acquainted with the group; Cesar Charlone, "Stranded's" Oscar-nominated cinematographer, grew up in Montevideo with many of the survivors and counts "Nando" Parrado as one of his best friends. Charlone ("City of God," "The Constant Gardener") was on the passenger list for the doomed flight but, traveling from Brazil at the time, he missed his connection.
"When I proposed to him to shoot this film, he can't say no even if he had a lot of other work and money," Arijon said.
Those who had been interviewed pressured the holdouts to cooperate with the filmmakers; in time, all the survivors consented to go in front of the camera. Arijon explained that some of them valued the chance to reevaluate and amplify their testimonies, some not having spoken publicly of their experiences on the mountain since speaking to Read for "Alive" more than three decades earlier. "The survivors told me the book became their story," Arijon explained. "That if it wasn't in the book, it wasn't true even if it was in their minds."
In one of the last scenes in "Stranded," a small group of the survivors visits the common grave at the crash site, also known as the Valley of Tears. With them are their sons and daughters, to whom the survivors explain the bond they retain to the departed. ("The spirit of my dead friends isn't inside me," Canessa says, ". . . I can feel them floating around me.") The message about cannibalism is explicit: Death resulted in the creation of new life.
"They are still trying to understand the meaning of this experience. But if you think about it, there are all the ingredients of a Greek tragedy, of a philosophical extreme," Arijon said. "They broke a taboo and went to another dimension. They crossed a border. Destiny put them in this horrible situation. And from this horrible story, they made a love story."