Mesmerizingly beautiful, Ixcanul captures a disappearing way of life and people. Teenage María lives with her family at the base of an active volcano. They are hardworking, Kaqchikel-speaking Mayans, harvesting coffee beans for a Spanish-speaking overseer to whom María is promised in marriage. But she yearns for someone else: Pepe, who dreams of leaving the village and traveling to “the other side of the volcano” (the United States). When these two come together one evening, their union has tragic consequences.
This brilliant debut by Jayro Bustamante examines the customs and traditions of the film’s indigenous characters in a dream-like manner. The final scenes, which reveal the bureaucracy and lack of humanity that Spanish-speaking Guatemala demonstrates toward indigenous cohabitants, touch on the timely subject of human trafficking.
About the Filmmaker
"Jayro Bustamante credits his multilingual skills to his early Montessori education in Guatemala, where he lived in the highlands populated by the Kaqchikel (Mayan) tribe until age 14. From age 17 to 19, he was an in-house commercial director at Ogilvy & Mather, where he saved to fund his European film education. Film-school studies in Paris and Rome have informed Bustamante’s work, which includes his Cannes-winning short Cuando sea grande. His feature debut Ixcanul (Volcano) was awarded the 2015 Berlinale Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize. Up next is the Guatemala City–set paternity drama Temblores, based on another true story." —Variety