Director Alejandro Loayza Grisi discusses Utama

November 3, 2022 An Eastern Region Special Projects Global Cinema Series Screening
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An elderly couple is forced to make life-changing decisions in Director Alejandro Loayza Grisi’s drama from Bolivia, Utama.

Set in the arid Bolivian highlands, Grisi’s film tells the story of Virginio and his wife Sisa — an elderly Quechua couple — who have been living a tranquil routine life 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. But when an uncommonly long drought threatens everything they know, they must decide whether to stay and maintain their traditional way of life or admit defeat and move in with family members in the city.

On November 3, the Eastern Region Special Projects Committee’s Global Series screened Utama at the Guild’s New York Theater. Following a welcome by Committee member Lily Olszewski, Grisi engaged in a conversation moderated by Director Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea) about the making of the film and revealed how storyboarding the script helped him prepare to shoot his debut feature.

“When I had the final version of the script, I started to draw all the scenes. That helped me prepare the film because I started to edit the film before shooting. I started to realize how many shots did I need for every scene and I wanted the film to have a particular rhythm. I love classical cinema and I love when you have all the elements of cinema to help you tell the story. I thought that I was going to need around three shots per scene. Through the entire film, we studied all of the positions. I put a lot of thinking in the preparing.”

Utama won the Grand Jury Prize (World Cinema Dramatic) at the Sundance Film Festival.


Q&A photos by Marcie Revens — Print Courtesy of Kino Lorber

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