Bolivian writer-director Kiro Russo made his feature directorial debut with 2016's Dark Skull, a dramatic mystery about lost youth in a dystopian Latin American city. Intertwining magical realism with the everyday, the cryptic film depicts the beauty of the streets of La Paz while offering insight into the everyday lives of labor workers in Bolivia.
His sophomore feature, The Great Movement (El Gran Movimiento), is a drama that follows Dark Skull's protagonist, Elder (Julio César Ticona), and his friends as they arrive in La Paz, looking to gain employment at a local coal mine. However, things take a strange turn after the young man's health starts to deteriorate and an elderly woman brings him to a homeless shaman for a cure.
"This film is mystical," Russo says. "For me, cinema is a language, more than just a storytelling machine. I believe cinema can be lined with magic, and that's present in my films. I see The Great Movement as a kind of spell — a film can stay in your body and you can evoke them."
For Russo, the film serves as the second installment in a planned trilogy and unfolds as a mosaic, "giving you more questions than answers." The Great Movement made its world premiere during last year's Venice International Film Festival last year, winning the Special Jury Prize in the Horizons competition. It opened in U.S. theaters at the Film at Lincoln Center in New York on Aug. 12 and screens at the Acropolis Cinema in L.A. on Aug. 18, before expanding.
"The elements of cinema, you can create something that evokes something within you that’s beyond the storytelling," the filmmaker shares. "Cinema is a huge and diverse language. Some films inspire me because of what I see on-screen, not necessarily because of a conceptual idea."
Below, Russo shares with A.frame five of the films that have influenced him as a filmmaker.
Directed and written by: Dziga Vertov
The city symphonies of the 1920s are a great influence for my film The Great Movement. The Man With A Movie Camera is a vérité film and a Soviet film, where the machine eye captures the fusion of man and modernity. In my film, I was interested in making a postmodern portrait of my city by reinterpreting certain modern dispositifs. Soviet montage dialectics are present in both films, but Man With A Movie Camera is an elegy where the montage is used to talk about the fusion of man and machines, and The Great Movement is rather a saturation and a contradiction that generates a dismemberment.
Directed by: Antonio Eguino | Written by: Óscar Soria
This drama is a great film; it's a portrait of La Paz created in the 1970s. It's a dialogue with my film, in a way. They’re related. But it is a film that has affected my entire career. This film shows cultural sides of La Paz that weren’t always documented. "Chuquiago" was what the Aymaras called La Paz.
Where to Watch: The Criterion Channel
Directed by: Ermanno Olmi | Written by: Ermanno Olmi and Ettore Lombardo
This film is an iconic piece of late neorealism. But, to be honest, all neorealism films have been influential on me. This is a coming-of-age film that is always linked with a young man entering the workforce, which ties into a similar journey the character in my first feature film, Dark Skull, is taking. That link is always important to me as a kind of inspiration. I felt a lot of inspiration from that moment of my own life. Even with the third film I’m working on as part of this trilogy, there is a kind of mirror to this film as well.
Directed by: Ming-liang Tsai | Written by: Tsai Ming-liang, Tsai Yi-chun, Yang Pi-ying
It's the style of this film that influences me. The duration, the length of the takes inspired me. The films made in the 1980s and 1990s defined so much, they are so important. I think many filmmakers changed the way of the usage of time in cinema, the contemplation. It’s mandatory. It was so important to watch. This was fundamental.
Directed and written by: Abbas Kiarostami
This film has been so influential on me. It’s a docu-fiction film that blurs the line between documentary and fiction. I rewatch it every year. There is a link between magic and reality. This film is linked with my films. It’s something I always do in my films. Being a rough film in its aesthetic, it turns out to be a kind of emotional film in the end. This idea of not letting the viewers know if it's documentary or fiction, I think he managed to unite these elements to move you so much as a viewer. I watch this film and I cry at the end. There’s something so special about it. It inspires me a lot.
By Nadja Sayej