“I Was a child that grew up with comics. Somehow, I learned with them that the communists were enemies of mine, who were going to harm me in some way. Even today, calling someone a communist serves to attack anyone who defends human rights and individual”, reminds THE COUNTRY Jayro Bustamante (Guatemala, 1977) over a common remark in your country that inspires The Llorona, her third film.

With it, he reinvents the well-known legend to rescue a subject until now taboo in the cinema and the society of Guatemala: impunity on the crimes committed in the country during the Civil War that occurred between 1960 and 1996.

The general Monteverde, now retired, faces in the tape to a criminal prosecution decades after he led the genocide during the Guatemalan Civil War. Acquitted of all charges, he returned to his mansion with his wife, daughter and granddaughter. When a new maid indian comes to the house, the military begins to hear at night the eerie cry of a woman. It is the soul of La Llorona, which arises in the search for justice.


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“back In the day, the Government silenced what was happening in the war. Slowly started turning into something that is not spoken in the street. The new generation knows nothing of it, despite being the recent history of your own country,” laments the filmmaker. Just present the film at the Film Festival of Tokyo, to the powerful asian market. Thus leads to the continent, the folklore hispanoamericano in full Day of the dead celebration, a holiday increasingly popular in Japan in its version global that is Halloween.

To get the echoes of the war to the more viewers young people, Bustamante uses the horror genre, the most popular among them, with permission of the cinema of superheroes: “we Live in a time in which the audiovisual is replacing the reading. It is not something that will make me happy, but makes me realise that we shot film we have an extra responsibility and we need to create content for something else that will entertain you’.

The version colonial of this fable has it that a woman of indian origin was the lover of a Spanish knight and, after the rejection of the man, murdered his two sons. Repentant, his soul wanders in search of redemption. Bustamante gives your movie a sense less sexist to the story, “to which the justice that would seek La Llorona away by something more important than a man,” he says.

The miracle of cinema guatemalan

La Llorona closes a triptych of films independent of each other with one point in common: each of them focuses on one of those “insults that fuel discrimination in Guatemala.” The first of these was “indian,” which focused on his debut Ixcanul (winner of the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer a la innovación audiovisual in the Berlin film Festival 2015). Then it was “hollow”, derogatory term referred to a gay man —“in particular, as a form of rejection of their feminine side,” explains the director, who is Tremor (2019).

The new film from Bustamante has given a new international prize to its director, to be the winner in the section Giornate degli Autori at the Venice film Festival, 2019. It is another milestone to get to a country without just film industry, in which only 29% used the Internet and less than 9% of the population has access to the movie theaters. “And, of those few spectators, almost all of them see blockbusters of the united States. So I end up comparing herself with new yorkers rich without real social problems,” he says. That’s why, celebrates the success of Our mothers of his compatriot César Diaz, who also addresses the issue of the country’s Civil War, and representing Belgium in the race to the Oscars to be a co-production with the european country.

Bustamante was able to release his first feature film at the age of 37. First he had to make a career in the world of advertising and then went to Europe to train in the cinema. He returned to his country to found his own company, The production house, that creates its own films, and opens the way to an activity which is unprecedented in Guatemala: the distribution of independent film. “The most difficult thing, in addition to funding, is to try to create a new habit of consumption in a country in which self-criticism is still considered to be a sin,” he confesses, while still opening the door to small miracles in the film in guatemala.


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