In the Bolivian highlands, an elderly Quechua couple has been living the same daily life for years. During an uncommonly long drought, Virginio and his wife face a dilemma: resist or be defeated by the environment and time itself.
Utama is the latest submission from Bolivia and it’s the best film they’ve ever submitted. Alejandro Loayza Grisi has created an impressive film about the Quechua Bolivians. The film is about Virginio and Sisa who live in a tiny hut in a remote part of the Andean Highlands. Their view is nothing but openness with the mountains in the distance. Virginio on a daily basis takes his group of llamas out to graze and to eat food. Sisa, meanwhile, fetches the water from a nearby well and maintains the home. This is their life.
But something is wrecking the life that they have established far away from civilization. It hasn’t rained in a long time and everything is drying up. What little water they have left, they have to ration. And a few days later the nearby well dries up and their only other source of water is a river many miles away.
As the intense heat begins to take effect on them, and on the llamas, their grandson Clever shows up. He brings necessities with him. But he has come this time with a purpose. He wants his grandparents to move to the city with him.
Director Grisi has created one of the most masterful, controlled movies I’ve seen this year. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. The shots of the sunrise and the sunsets in this barren land is remarkable. We are engulfed in the landscapes. He has also created a film about a lifestyle and a group of people that most of us know nothing about, and this alone is praiseworthy and a gift for us. We immediately fall in love with Virginia and Sisa.
Virginio tells his grandson a story about the condor. He tells him that when the condor doesn’t feel useful anymore he will fly to the top of the mountain, drop his wings and fall down the cliff to his death. As the global warning takes effect on this earth the mountains and lakes that provide water and so many essential things to so many people are dying as well. Utama means our home. And our home is this earth. When something dies, a new cycle begins. We are the new cycle, and it’s time for us to make a change before it’s too late.