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Dark Skull

Kiro Russo
Viejo calavera
Bolivia, Qatar 2016 / 80’
Birthday Fog

A bit of a dark character. A drunkard, layabout and junkie. A thief lurking in dark alleys. One of those people who arouses either fear or disgust. Director Kiro Russo takes a big risk in making such a character - without a care for the viewer's compassion - the main character of his film. Elder, the freeloader in question, doesn't care where his life throws him. So, when his father, a miner by profession, suddenly dies, the boy under the pressure of his family starts to work in a mine. But deep underground, in the dark tunnels, a rebellion is smoldering. The specter of the mine closing becomes an opportunity for frustrated men to fight for themselves. Will the protest make Elder feel part of a community or part of something important for the first time? This award-winning (Locarno) debut is a cramped picture of maneuvering through life, a freedom that only offers a path downwards. Some of the shots were taken in a mine in Huanuni, which makes the film surround the viewer with a crushing atmosphere. The bright lights on the helmets make the dirty faces stand out from the darkness, conversations disappear in the whirring of machines, and in one of the tight corridors Elder tries to hide himself. To get drunk and escape from himself and the world.

Mariusz Mikliński


Locarno IFF 2016 – Special Mention; Rio de Janeiro IFF 2016 – Best Latin American Film, FIPRESCI Prize; IndieLisboa IIFF 2017 – Grand Prize City of Lisbon; BAFICI 2017 – Best Director – Special Mention

Kiro Russo

Kiro Russo is a Bolivian director and producer who was born in 1984 in La Paz and graduated from the film school in Buenos Aires. His short documentary film Juku had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, and at the IndieLisboa Independent Cinema Festival it received the main prize. His feature-length debut Dark Skull won an award at the Locarno IFF in 2016 and has been presented at many other festivals.

Selected filmography

2010 Enterprisse (short)

2011 Juku (short)

2015 Nueva vida (short)

Cast & Crew

director Kiro Russo
screenplay Kiro Russo, Gilmar Gonzales
cinematography Pablo Paniagua
editing Kiro Russo, Pablo Paniagua
cast Julio Cesar Ticoa, Narciso Choquecallata, Anastasia Daza López, Rolando Patzi
producer Kiro Russo, Gilmar Gonzales, Pablo Paniagua, Edwin Yucra
production Socavón Cine, S.T.M.M.D.H
sales Socavón Cine
language Spanish
colouration colour