Southern District

(Zona sur)
Juan Carlos Valdivia | Drama, Fiction, Comedy, Romance

2011 | 109 minutes | Bolivia

Bolivia’s official entry for the Academy® Awards, this searing portrait of a patrician family in flux exposes the bubble of decadence in which they exist. The threat of shifting aristocratic privilege heralds a new era in a seemingly interminable class war.


La Paz’s Zona Sur neighborhood is Bolivia’s most exclusive enclave and has housed the country’s affluent elite for generations. In an adobe-tile-roofed castle, a statuesque matriarch reigns over her spoiled offspring and indigenous servants. But social change, however unwelcome, is on its way. As the mother squabbles with her self-indulgent, oversexed teenage son and clashes with her petulant daughter, her 6-year-old boy wanders the rooftops unsupervised. The scent of impending decline permeates the air, and the threat of shifting aristocratic privilege heralds a new era in a seemingly interminable class war. Bolivia’s official entry for the Academy® Awards, this searing portrait of a patrician family in flux exposes the bubble of decadence in which they exist. With outstanding cinematography, director Juan Carlos Valdivia elevates camerawork from a craft to the level of art.


"Slow-paced and character driven, color plays a dramatic role in the background of this film. The façade of black and white with which the house is sumptuously decorated hides the fact that Carola can no longer afford her Beverly Hills-esque lifestyle. The family wears dazzling white almost exclusively until the reality of their changing situation hits them full-force and suddenly, everyone is wearing black. Human touch also figures in: early on, it's merely manipulative, but in the final moments, has the ability to offer true meaning and compassion...Southern District offers a dramatic picture of family dynamics in modern day South America. " — Sandra Collins, Byzantine Catholic Seminary Library, Pittsburgh, EMRO

"Zona Sur is, without a doubt, the most mature and personal movie of this filmmaker, who took his first steps on the complex road of full-length films fourteen long years ago." — Carlos D. Mesa Gisbert

"What this author has achieved is a cinematic work, which, although very personal, graphically portrays this mutating society." — Sergio de la Zerda, Laromona Magazine

"Zona Sur is a movie that has arrived to legitimize and bring Bolivian digital cinema to its apex...The most successful Bolivian cinematographic work in recent years." — Santiago Espinoza A.

"This magnificent production, a true work of art, could be interpreted as the epistle of a class in retirement, from which only nostalgia remains, between the pitiful melodies of an aristocratic piano and the whispers of a boy who one day wanted to fly." — Sergio Zapata, Fotogenia

Main credits

Valdivia, Juan Carlos (film director)
Valdivia, Juan Carlos (screenwriter)
Maire, Gabriela (film producer)
Castillo, Ninón del (actor)
Loayza, Pascual (actor)
Fernández, Nicolás (actor)
Koria, Juan Pablo (actor)

Other credits

Director of photography, Paul de Lumen; editor, Iván Layme; music, Cergio Prudencio.

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Academy Awards® - Bolivia's submission for Best Foreign Language Film
Sundance Film Festival; Berlin Film Festival
Havana Film Festival
Huelva Latinoamerican Film Festival - Best Cinematography
Guadalajara International Film Festival

DIRECTOR: Juan Carlos Valdivia


YEAR: 2011

GENRE: Drama, Fiction, Comedy, Romance

LANGUAGE: Spanish; Aymara

COLOR / B&W: Color

GRADE LEVEL: College, Adults



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