Utama (2022)

November 21st, 2022
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Alejandro Loayza Grisi | Bolivia, Doc 87′

All over the world small rural communities are struggling to survive amid the inexorable march of progress particularly in the light of climate change and economic crisis. In his first feature Bolivian filmmaker Alejandro Loayza Grisi transforms this gruelling struggle into a quietly stunning drama with avant-garde vision, working with a cast of local non-pros.

In the arid Bolivian highlands, UTAMA follows an elderly Quechua couple determined to stay in their remote smallholding surrounded by the magnificent highlands of Bolivia hundreds of miles south of La Paz. And who would blame them? Virginio and Sisi have been living the same daily routine for years tending their flock of llamas whose pink-ribboned ears marks them out in one of the film’s inspired and endearing touches.

But this year’s drought has cast a long shadow over their traditional way of life forcing them to reconsider the future and potentially move with family members in the city, particularly in the light of Virginio’s worsening health. The arrival of their teenage grandson accentuates the widening gulf between the hardworking old couple and leisure-driven younger generation. Sisa must decide whether to stay and maintain their traditional way of life or admit defeat. Harnessing the brilliant light of this ethereal part of the world, 3500 meters above sea level, award-winning cinematographer Barbara Alvarez makes each frame a visual masterpiece. MT




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