April 19-29, 2018

Plot

After his father passes away, wayward Bolivian son Elder Mamani is forced to live with his grandmother, far from the city, where his family hopes to provide the discipline and support he needs to straighten out his lawless, hard drug-abusing behavior. Toward that end Elder’s godfather Francisco arranges a job for him with the local mining company, where he must vouch for him and lobby for his acceptance. It’s a noble gesture, but Elder skips work daily and quickly establishes that he has no intention of reckoning with his bad habits. Francisco endures this grudgingly, as his co-workers constantly mock him about the pitiful performance of his godson. Drunken exploration of a ramshackle coal mine seldom ends well, and when Francisco finds Elder lost in the smoky corridors about to become an unsuspecting victim to a dynamite blast, he leaves him alone there in a moment of harsh judgment. When Elder miraculously survives the explosion, however–they say God watches over children and drunkards, after all–the miners that rescue him decide to embrace him rather as an amulet of good luck. The conflict between Elder and Francisco becomes manifest in a haunting journey through the tropics with the mining crew, where secrets come to light. With jaw-dropping, dreamlike visuals, Dark Skull authors an atmospheric and darkly beautiful subterranean study. Kiro Russo received a Special Mention Award for Filmmakers of the Present at the prestigious Locarno Film Festival and the film has been hailed as a new landmark in Bolivian cinema.

Screenings