Southern District – Review

Southern District is a Bolivian feature that examines an upper class household and its staff as the country teeters on the brink of social upheaval. The film is fun and quite touching as the family’s instability is slowly revealed and the cracks start to show.

The director, Juan Carlos Valdivia, has taken a unique approach to the filming and uses only a single shot for each scene. In these shots the camera slowly pans around the room exploring various areas and following the action where it goes or more often where the action is not. The resulting film is made up of 57 shots with the camera moving around in a circle. While at first I thought this might get irritating and repetitive it actually served to immerse me within the film, as if I were wandering around the room as the scene progressed.

What makes the film really impressive is that it was filmed with complete amateurs over the course of four weeks, the lack of training giving a really natural style to the performances. This combined with the long roaming shots made for a convincing and original film, possibly the best surprise of the festival so far.