Life and motion bubble throughout Kiro Russo’s unflinching glimpse into the lives of La Paz’s most impoverished. Filmed on 16mm in the city’s poorest neighbourhoods and throughout recent upheaval in Bolivia, El Gran Movimiento (The Great Movement) takes time to rest on the unseen: the shadow, the dust, the decay before speeding through montages of the mundane and the otherworldly (a recurring white wolf haunts the central miners’ journey, as they seek medical treatment for an elderly member of their team). With this constantly-roaming livelihood on the line – not to mention the purpose of this week-long journey to reinstate their jobs – his younger coworkers’ search for cures turns to folk practice when conventional medicine seems out of reach and out of touch. 

Despite life-and-death stakes and monumental undertaking, once the scene is set and the conflict on the table, the plot matters little as wry everyday interactions define the miners’ navigation of the city. Moments of revelation and connection surface and then are quickly moved along, creating a dreamlike atmosphere of destiny even if payoff is minimal. A central dance number, firmly in magical realist territory, finds unity as people from all walks of life perform the same choreography. 

Towards the film’s conclusion, rapid smash cuts as food is picked, sliced, and spun in bags at a market blur into sensory overload but also cement El Gran Movimiento as a love letter to the sights, sounds, and people of La Paz. If Max – the healer enlisted by the miners – says the city will crumble to dust, this lens ensures it will not be forgotten.

El Gran Movimiento anchors itself in character interactions and the juxtaposition of magical realism with commonly ignored realities. Puzzling, beautiful, and meticulous, it packs too much into its short run time to land, but remains mesmerising. 



CAST: Julio Cézar Ticona, Max Eduardo Bautista Uchasara, Francisca Arce de Aro, Israel Hurtado, Gustavo Milán

DIRECTOR: Kiro Russo

WRITER: Kiro Russo

SYNOPSIS: When an elderly miner falls ill, his colleagues go through La Paz to find a witch doctor in hopes of saving him.

The rest of the ADRIFT season can be found here