Winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize this year at Sundance, Utama is set in the arid Bolivian highlands and follows an elderly Quechua couple that has been living the same daily routine for years. While he takes their small herd of llamas out to graze, she keeps house and walks for miles with the other local women to fetch precious water. When an uncommonly long drought threatens everything they know, Virginio and Sisa must decide whether to stay and maintain their traditional way of life or admit defeat and move to the city with their descendants. Their dilemma is precipitated by the arrival of their grandson Clever, who comes to visit with news. The three of them must face, each in their own way, the effects of a changing environment, the importance of tradition, and the meaning of life itself. (Watch the trailer.)
This visually jaw-dropping debut feature by photographer-turned-filmmaker Alejandro Loayza Grisi is lensed by award-winning cinematographer Barbara Alvarez (Lucretia Martel’s The Headless Woman).
We open Utama Friday at the Royal. Loayza Grisi and producer Santiago Loayza Grisi will participate in Q&As after the 7:30 PM screenings on Friday and Saturday, November 11 and 12. Moderators: Friday – Carlos Aguilar (Los Angeles Times, New York Times); Saturday – Katie Walsh (Los Angeles Times, The Wrap).
“Sublime. From the breathtaking opening shot… the film looks unlike anything else.” – Variety
“Meditative and deeply romantic. Rarely has the [climate] crisis been addressed as organically—or with quite so many llamas.” – RogerEbert.com
“Visually stunning… combines magical realism with gorgeously precise cinematography. The images conjured in Utama momentarily let us into the language of the unknown, of what we can not comprehend unless we are as in tune with the land as those whose existence is so deeply tied to it.” – IndieWire
Utama is one of several Best International Oscar competitors that we’re already screening, with more to come, including: