TERRA INCOGNITA

TERRA INCOGNITA

Documentary (’50)

It’s 1598 and from the harbor of Rotterdam a secret mission of five ships departs to discover new lands
in the East. The vessels were called LOVE (De Liefde), HOPE, FAITH, TRUTH and GLAD TIDINGS.
DE LIEFDE turned out to be first Dutch ship that arrived in Japan. Out of the five, it was the only ship that
would actually reach the shores of the East.
Director Lucho Alarcon Diaz, born in Chile, finds himself living in Rotterdam, in the house of a famous
Dutch conqueror of the Spanish treasure fleet, when he discovers the story about DE LIEFDE.
For reasons unknown, DE LIEFDE had originally held the name of the famous humanist Desiderius
Erasmus, and on its stern it carries his figurehead. After DE LIEFDE reaches Japan, the ship sinks. The
figurehead is thought to be a “God of the Sea” and found centuries later in a Buddhist temple. Today, it
remains in an exhibition on modern times at Tokyo’s National Museum.
The journey of DE LIEFDE marks a turning point in history between the East and the West. It is the
beginning of a new era of trade and technology, and of a darker side at the same time:
Before making it to Japan, DE LIEFDE passes by Terra del Fuego while sailing the Strait of Magellan.
Massacres and the abduction of native children are reported. At the campfires, the story of a ghost ship
that wanders in the channels of the Strait makes the rounds. They call it EL CALEUCHE and children are
warned that they will disappear if they only as much as look at it.
In TERRA INCOGNITA, the Chilenian descendant of these natives Lucho Alarcon follows the trace of DE
LIEFDE, exploring its odyssey and history. Over the waters from Rotterdam to Terra del Fuego and
eventually Japan, Alarcon scrutinizes the line of Erasmus’ humanist ideals as much as the past and the
influence on the modern society today here, and elsewhere, in the West, and the East, and between
them.
During the dictatorship in Chile, humanistic ideology had formed an inspiration for Lucho for his
resistance. Today, living next to the Erasmusbridge in the philosopher’s hometown, Lucho feels haunted
as a descendant of the natives from Terra del Fuego. What can he tell his children about the history of his
people? 

Terra Incognita currently received financial support of Dienst Kunst en Cultuur Rotterdam and the Rotterdam Media Fund and Corfo Fund Chile for the development of the project

Director
Lucho Alarcon 

Script
Lucho Alarcon
Ximena Davalos

Producers
In-Soo Radstake
Bruno Bettati
Sho Hirasawa

Line producer
Marius Maurits

Genre
Documentary (’50)