Review by Dan Skip Allen
Experimental films usually can do two things: they can create an existential view of what the filmmaker is seeing and wants the viewer to see or tell a pretty straightforward story in a vastly different style. El Gran Movimento is the latter. It is the straightforward telling of the story of these people in Bolivia.
The film mainly focuses on a handful of Bolivian citizens who start in Oruro and end up in La Paz. Three men who were miners leave their home in Oruro when the mine they worked for shuts down due to a work stoppage. The miners go on strike for better pay, benefits, and working conditions. While they work in another town, one gets sick in the mine. That's where the other two main characters in the film come in: an old hermit lady who walks around talking to people and is also a friend to the guys and an old medicine man. He travels around as well, but he tries to help the sick elder.
This film does a few other interesting things. Between the narrative story of the film, Kiro Russo shows the country and how it works from the standpoint of the various aspects of the industry. Camera shots showing crumbling buildings, rainy shots of the city from afar, and the hustle and bustle of the people who work in a grocery alley help maintain the working environment in the area.
Also, out of nowhere, similar to a Bollywood film, there is a dance number right in the middle of the film. Why? I have no idea, but it was set to electronic music, and it broke up the monotony of the rest of the film. Russo did a few strange things like this but didn't hinder the overall narrative much. If anything, they made the film a little more understandable and easier to watch.
The filmmaking style was a bit muted, though, probably because he didn't have the best technology to work with. It looked like it was filmed a while ago and took a long time to come out. It just didn't look new like most films do. Even period piece films look newer than this. The budget was probably pretty small, and this may have been a guerrilla filmmaking crew since these actors seemed like natives from Bolivia he just followed around and created a narrative film with. Who knows, though?
El Gran Movimento was a solid film. There have been bigger named filmmakers to make this type of film, but this had an interesting style and narrative that made it work. Besides oddities in the overall production, it wasn't an awful film. It wasn't great either, but I give the cast and crew the benefit of the doubt because they made a solid effort.
El Gran Movimiento hits theaters on August 12.