The Great Movement: A Peculiar Portrait of La Paz

Opening at Showroom Cinema this Friday is the enthralling and enchanting new film from idiosyncratic Bolivian director, Kiro Russo - The Great Movement.

A strange, intriguing and stylistically daring drama, The Great Movement follows a young Bolivian miner, Elder. Along with two friends, he makes a week-long trek to La Paz to demand the reinstatement of his and his fellow workers’ jobs, sleeping rough and picking up back-breaking casual shifts as market porters along the way. Once in the big city, Elder suddenly falls ill with a pulmonary illness brought on by inhaling coal dust and quickly deteriorates. He enlists the aid of a mysterious herbalist who promises to use otherworldly magic to pull him from the brink.  

Using a non-professional cast, largely composed of actual miners, Russo creates a documentary-like feel with The Great Movement. This realism is juxtaposed with a playful mishmash of other filmmaking styles, including surreal, joyous dance sequences and elements of magical realism to fashion a peculiar fever dream of La Paz – the filmmaker’s home city. This captures the essence of city life by revealing in its many contradictions. What starts out feeling like a documentary-style character portrait shifts into feeling like more of a poetic reflection on modernity at times, examining the plight of the working class in the Bolivian capital. The city’s soundscape is also cleverly mixed as though the chatter of crowds, construction noise, and honking horns were each an instrument in an urban orchestra.  

Winner of the Special Jury Prize in the Horizons strand at the 2021 Venice Film Festival, The Great Movement is difficult to define. It is an investigation, both physical and spiritual, into the contemporary central South American city and those who live and work within it. Offering shifting tones with increasingly dynamic editing, from its haunting opening montage to its intense finale, the filmtraverses extraordinary urban landscapes in a similar style to Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass’s 1982 environmental masterpiece, Koyaanisqatsi.  

Bolivia’s entry for the 94th Academy Awards, The Great Movement is a hypnotic and surprising journey into a psychological space, for those prepared to leave logic behind and go along for the ride. An ambitious and compelling work, it plants Kiro Russo firmly on the map as a rare and intriguing filmmaking talent.  

The Great Movement opens at Showroom Cinema on Friday 29th April. Tickets are now on sale.  

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