Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 May 2015 11:42
Jayro Bustamante, Guatemala/France
Maria (Maria Mercedes Coroy), a Kaqchikel Mayan Indian works on a coffee plantation with her family at the foot of an active volcano in Guatemala. As tradition she has been promised to marry Ignacio, the overseer of the plantation even though she herself is not exactly happy with the idea. Her eyes are on El Pepe (Marvin Coroy) who is planning to migrate to the USA and she believes that this will be also her chance to escape this traditional destiny. But El Pepe is a selfish man. He steals money from his friends, seduces Maria and leaves her pregnant and in disgrace. When faced with all of this, Maria stands solid but alone until she becomes aware of the one person who stands at her side: her mother. So together, they attempt to have a natural abortion which includes indigenous medicine and ancient rituals praying to the gods of the volcano. But the baby wants to live which puts the family at risk of having to leave the house so they find another solution again where Maria has to sacrifice herself to chase away the snakes in a very strange and powerful ritual. When she is bitten by the snake, we know see the interaction and conflict between the Mayan people and the Mestizo people who live in the city.
The beauty of this cinematography is that it focuses on everyday activities, language, traditions and rites. This film is a tribute to the strength of the women in this indigenous community. Director Jayron Bustamante knows the Guatemalan highlands since his mother used to roam from village to village trying to vaccinate children when he was young. He also witnesses this communication and culture conflict between the Mayans and the Mestizo since they didn’t speak Spanish. Years later the UN reported on the abduction children which was being committed through the public health services. This trafficking of children is not a secret and it is estimated at about 400 children per year. This film was created out of a cultural project by setting up expression workshops and discussion groups to elevate the social awareness and problems through writing, theater, and film making. Through this process he found a wonderful group of talented actors and opened up a theme that needed to be addressed in this society. Both main actresses dressed in their traditional outfits, made it to Berlin and were proud to represent their indigenous tribe and to be taken seriously as well. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)