Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante has captured international acclaim in the foreign language film scene and made history for his home country with his award-winning debut feature “Ixcanul” (Volcano).
Bustamante’s “Ixcanul,” filmed almost entirely in the Kaqchikel indigenous language spoken in Guatemala’s highlands, added two new awards to its list of honors this weekend with prizes from film festivals in Philadelphia and Kiev.
“Ixcanul” has already won awards at festivals in Santo Domingo, Guadalajara, Cartagena, Toulouse, and Berlin, breaking records in Guatemala as the most award-winning feature in the country’s history of film.
The film is also in the running for an Academy Award in the foreign language category.
“Specialized magazine places Ixcanul in 6th place for an Oscar as a foreign film.”
“Ixcanul” tells the story of Maria, a young Mayan woman who dreams of discovering what lies beyond the Guatemalan highlands where her family lives on a coffee plantation near an active volcano. Though Maria, played by Maria Mercedes Coroy, longs to experience a “modern” life with her love interest Pepe, a humble coffee worker, she’s already betrothed in an arranged marriage to the foreman of the plantation.
While Maria eventually gets a personal glimpse of “modernity,” she also comes face to face with harsh suffering and rediscovers her own culture from a new perspective.
For Bustamante, who grew up in Guatemala’s Kaqchikel Maya region, Maria’s story is a window into the heart of the realities of indigenous life and culture in Guatemala.
“Thank you to the public for accepting and entering into this story, for following us and being part of the life of Maria, but also part of the reality of is happening in Guatemala,” said Bustamante while accepting the awards from the Philadelphia and Kiev festivals.
“Ixcanul” has been described as both cinematically beautiful and emotionally intense, delving deep into difficult themes of race, gender, and enduring challenges faced by indigenous people in Guatemala.