Looking at cinema through the eyes of indigenous peoples

As a result of one of the winning projects of the Young Creators call in Merida, film director Yaremi Chan is preparing a workshop where she will discuss how a small production can tell great stories, suitable for the context and everyday life of indigenous peoples, specifically focusing on Maya culture. The workshop will take place this Friday at the Mérida Olimpo Cultural Center.

When did you start making films?

My approach to cinema is rooted in community work, and that’s when I decided to create this workshop on cinematic perspectives of indigenous peoples. I am fortunate to have access to film education because it is an empowering tool. However, now I can question myself on how to tell stories based on my own perspective, my everyday life, but it’s not easy because I don’t want to fall into the trap of folklorization or stereotyping of my culture.

How did this project come about?

It is the result of feedback received from the Young Creators call when we premiered the video dance performance “Ichil Xíiw” last year. The audience asked questions about our approach to cinema and why we chose to make films in the Maya language.

What is the objective of the workshop?

The objective is to promote audiovisual production from local perspectives and to encourage the creation of audiovisual content with the technical and economic resources available.

What topics will you address?

A major obstacle in filmmaking is the high cost involved, and often, in the pursuit of making a big production, nothing gets done. That’s why the workshop aims to show that beyond the economic aspect, we need to know what elements we have at our disposal to ground the project in a real context.

What narratives can an indigenous community offer?

Most of the time, when working with indigenous communities, documentaries are made because it tends to be easier – interviewing people, capturing daily life – it’s more feasible. But it’s also possible to develop fictional works with a script, characters, locations, and sets.

How is film production on the Peninsula?

Currently, we are witnessing the emergence of indigenous digital cinema and indigenous fiction cinema in the southeast. It is starting to gain momentum and bringing a point of reflection to audiovisual production, which has long been centralized in Mexico City and the northern part of the country.

Does the local context help?

The advantage for people in the southeast is that we live alongside a mother culture like the Maya culture. Growing up in this context, I, as a Maya woman, have a very close understanding of my surroundings.

When and where will the workshop be held?

The workshop will take place on Friday at 4 pm in the Videosala of the Olimpo Cultural Center, with a capacity for 50 people. No experience is required, but participants should bring a notebook, pen, and recording device such as a cell phone, digital camera, or recorder.

Who is involved in this project with you?

Although they will not be physically present, members of the Pies de Mezcal art company are participating, including producer Mariela Bojorquez Carrasco, documentary editor Eva Villaseñor, Maya calligrapher Uitzil Chac, and many people who were involved in the production of the video dance performance “Ichil Xíiw.”

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