‘La Llorona’ director discusses film themes, reimagining Latinx American legend

Posted On Sep 17 2020 by

first_img“They were all from different organizations; they are sons and granddaughters and grandsons who are looking for the missing people from the war in Guatemala and still fighting for the rights of the people who lost their families,” Matheu said.  Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante first amazed critics in 2015 with his debut film “Ixcanul” (Volcano), which was selected as the Guatemalan entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards. His portrayal of a young Indigenous woman — a subject hardly touched upon in cinema — marks his longtime commitment to representing marginalized groups in Guatemala.  “La Llorona” was deeply personal for not only Bustamante and Matheu but for the extras, who played as the protesters, as well.  Inspired by the elegant portrayal of Dracula, Bustamante reframed La Llorona as a Mayan woman who underwent unimaginable horrors under Guatemala’s ethnic cleansing. With this unique spin on La Llorona, the movie thus stands in stark opposition to the U.S. film “The Curse of La Llorona,” which not only relied on cheap jump scares and the naiveté of its characters but also whitewashed the legend.   “Guatemala is a very complicated country if you want to talk about human rights or social rights or independent rights,” Bustamante said. “We don’t have any more dictators, but we continue to have that dictatorial system because we never really cut that, and there are a lot of people defending that [system].”  What’s particularly impressive about the film is how Bustamante reimagines a figure deeply rooted in Latinx folklore by placing it within the context of the massacres of Indigenous tribes in Guatemala. Bustamante noted how the original folk tale is rather misogynistic.  Determined to impart the film’s messages to a wider audience, Bustamante and Matheu thus decided to make it a horror film because they knew the genre pulled the biggest box office grosses in Guatemala.  Gorgeously shot and written, “La Llorona” stands out among other horror films because of its elegance. Many horror films, especially ones made in the United States, rely on cheap thrills like jump scares and gore rather than an emotionally impactful storyline. “La Llorona,” on the other hand, is a slow rumination on how a family attempts to deny the blatant atrocities their patriarch has committed as well as their complicity in the oppression that Indigenous peoples face.  Matheu said one of the most emotional scenes for the extras to shoot was one in which the protesters clamor around Enrique, demanding justice for their people. The extras felt that Diaz embodied the real dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, whom the character of Enrique was based on.  center_img Continuing this tradition is Bustamante’s third feature “La Llorona,” a horror drama that highlights the struggle of Indigenous peoples in Guatemala. On Wednesday, he and producer Gustavo Matheu led an online screening and live Q&A at the School of Cinematic Arts.   “As Latin Americans, we have something very natural with magical realism because it’s part of our culture, and La Llorona is also part of our culture,” Matheu said. “And then when they see the movie, they will find out there’s some message behind it; that it’s more deep and more dark and more horrifying than the horror [of the film] itself.”  “La Llorona,” which premiered on Shudder Aug. 6, centers around Enrique Monteverde (Julio Diaz), a retired general responsible for the genocide of thousands of native lxil Mayan people during the early 1980s. As angry and grief-stricken protesters congregate outside of his home, Monteverde’s wife Carmen (Margarita Kenéfic), daughter Natalia (Sabrina De La Hoz) and granddaughter Sara (Ayla-Elea Hurtado) struggle between their familial devotion and their burgeoning realization of the crimes he’s committed. Their only other companion is their loyal housekeeper Valeriana (María Telón) until a mysterious Indigenous maid, Alma (María Mercedes Coroy), arrives. School of Cinematic Arts hosts virtual screening of “La Llorona” followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers. (Vincent Leo | Daily Trojan) “I never understood why La Llorona is so important … it’s a very misogynistic legend, because it’s always a woman crying because some man quit her, and because that man quit her, she’s able to kill her kids,” Bustamante said. “We decided to change that and take La Llorona and transform it.”  “They didn’t have the opportunity to tell the dictator a lot of things, but in that moment when they were playing the [characters] and they were screaming at him … there was something going on inside them that was very strong,” Matheu said. “People that didn’t have the opportunity to have [closure] were having at that moment.”  What’s powerful about this film is how the audience comes to realize that the real horror of this film is not the titular “La Llorona” but rather the centuries of oppression and pain the Indigenous tribes have endured in Guatemala. The past never remains in the past but instead lingers constantly, Bustamante argues, until we find the courage to fully confront our bloody histories.last_img read more


Special Audit into UG’s finances at stand-still due to uncertainty on payment plan

Posted On Jan 12 2020 by

first_imgThe special audit into the finances at the University of Guyana (UG) is at a standstill as authorities are yet to figure out who will stand the expense to conduct the probe.Auditor GeneralDeodat SharmaThis is according to Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, who told the Guyana Times that although the payment plan has not yet been finalised, plans are still onboard to have the audit done.“We still got it in plans… we are still waiting to hear but we have not gone in as yet and at the same time also, there is the main issue of who going to pay the fees, we got to really get that clarified. The Education Ministry’s Permanent Secretary had stopped the audit, so if we go ahead, somebody has to pay the fees. Normally, we have got to ensure that somebody acknowledges the payment,” he stated.The Auditor General noted that no ground work has been done as yet while noting that other options to conduct the audit may have to be utilised.Initially, the Audit Office of Guyana had contracted an independent company to conduct the much-needed and highly anticipated audit into UG – in light of allegations of mismanagement of funds.This particular audit was first ordered by the Education Ministry after a request was made by the two workers’ unions at UG to have such an investigation launched. The Ministry was reportedly going to stand the expense associated with the investigation.University of Guyana, Turkeyen CampusShortly after the independent company commenced its work into the matter, the Education Ministry withdrew its request for the audit, with no explanation given. Almost two months ago, AG Sharma has noted that the backlog of years UG did not complete its audited financial statements was a cause for worry.Sharma, whose agency audits Government’s public accounts on an annual basis, explained the importance of having those accounts edited to 2018. He was not convinced about the UG administration’s sincerity in clearing this backlog.The University of Guyana Senior Staff Association (UGSSA) and University of Guyana Workers Union (UGWU) have levelled these accusations, in particular. The Unions had joined forces to question why monies were allocated in previous budgets to entities which do not exist and what became of those funds.They had also demanded answers from the administration on how much money was spent on nonessential events within the last two and half years – which included, but were not limited to, the Law and Society series, the Turkeyen-Tain talks, and the Vice-Chancellor’s installation ceremony.They had argued that while these monies were being spent, the core units of the University, which include faculties and schools, had been informed that no money is available for essential repairs and payment for stationery, among others.In his 2016 Audit Report, Sharma had found that $209 million had been unaccounted for from the University of Guyana’s Science and Technology Support Project, funded by the Government of Guyana (GoG) and the International Development Association (IDA) under Credit Agreement No 4969-GY.However, the University had insisted that the monies were used for infrastructure projects on the campus, including a fibre optic cable to provide students with Wi-Fi.It had also noted that some of the monies were used to renovate the faculty buildings.last_img read more