Ixcanul is a miserabilist coming-of-age story set in a Guatemalen village nestled atop of a volcano. The story follows Maria (played by María Mercedes Coroy), a teenager who works at a coffee plantation, the manager of which she is set to marry. Yet Maria has her eyes set on a younger man, a co-worker anxious to flee Guatemala for the USA. Their drunken encounter is a hinge of the plot: Maria is impregnated by the young co-worker; the majority of the movie is about how she’ll resolve this issue. In this debut feature, writer/director Jayro Bustamento presents a gloomy, unsentimental narrative that draws on the raw performances of his cast, most of whom are not professional actors. Ixcanul is textured too: We get a sense of a variety of rituals, superstitious and ceremonial, and a window into daily life—cooking, weaving, farming. The squealing of the pigs is unforgettable.
In Kaqchikel & Spanish
By Alec Julian & Carrie White