Ixcanul (2015) (Chillerpop at Telluride)

The last full film I was privileged to watch at Telluride was Ixcanul, hailing from Guatemala and directed by Jayro Bustamante.  The film was entirely in the Mayan ethnic language Kaqchikel.

Actress Maria Mercedes Conroy was terrific as Maria, a young girl from a Guatemalan village struggling desperately to escape circumstances that are unfairly out of her control.  An arranged marriage leads her to rebel by having sex with her young boyfriend, but even her subsequent pregnancy and attempts to escape to the U.S. aren’t enough to get her out of situation; in fact, it makes it significantly worse for her entire family.

You see many things play out in this story, including patriarchy, economic entrapment, and heartbreaking ideas about what migration to the United States means to those trying to cross the border.  But this is really the story of Maria’s rebellion, and you learn a lot about yourself from the actions of everyone around her.

The film is beautifully shot, but be warned, animals were in fact hurt in the making.  We’re treated to two scenes of distinct Mesoamerican mysticism that were very interesting.

Seek it out when you’re in a quiet mood and you want to invest in watching something different.

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