Ixcanul (Volcano) is a sad look at how modern culture can abuse its indigenous forbearers. The film follows Maria (Maria Coroy), a young Mayan woman whose attempts to escape the prospects of an arranged marriage see her falling victim to the stereotypes the medical bodies in the city have of indigenous life, bracketing all who choose to live in nature with poverty, with devastating results.
In a way what makes this film so successful is director and writer Jayro Bustamante’s loose use of chiasmus in his plot. It opens with Maria and her mother (Maria Telon) trying to get a pig pregnant, a scene that doesn’t lack in humour as they resort to the well tested method of getting the pigs drunk to induce horniness. Following these attempts Maria is solemnly prepared by her mother to meet a would-be suitor, who holds the future of her family in his hands. At the end, after the sombre and saddening experiences Maria has suffered, we revisit the piglets. The return to the beginning series of events solidifies the inevitability of a life leaden with responsibilities and isolated by a modern culture that has left them behind.
Coroy gives a debut performance so raw and real in its portrayal of a playful, beautiful young girl broken by the failures of a society to protect her at her most vulnerable. Telon emulates perfectly a mother bound by the labour of love to a child she fought hard to conceive, conveying the consuming emotions her character experiences without the need for dialogue. Bustamante’s beautiful piece is safe in the hands of the cast he chose to depict it.
A piece of stunning cinematography, Bustamante subverts the superiority of city life to forest dwelling through the composition of his shots, the beauty of nature personified in the clarity of each scene whilst the stark grittiness of modernity is emphasised through shaky tracking shots.
An eye-opening film that transcends the culture it follows to ask the bigger questions of societal stigmatism, traditional beliefs and young relationships.
Ixcanul (Volcano) does not have a UK release date yet.
Watch the trailer for Ixcanul Volcano here: