Clashing tradition with modernity is Ixcanul, a Guatemalan film that scooped up a variety of awards from its festival run but has struggled to find distribution in major markets. I suppose films from first-time feature directors that aren’t about people with paved roads and indoor plumbing seem like a hard sell, but I think that good stories can find audiences, and Ixcanul looks like a good one.

Set in the shadows of a volcano and about something as basic as a girl’s transition into womanhood, the film takes a long look at 17-year-old Maria’s impending arranged marriage and her fling with a young local. The fling, of course, should never have happened, and its consequences push Maria and her family to unexpected places.

As you can see from the trailer, the Guatemalan landscape is captured in beautiful wide shots, making a trip to the theater all the more worthwhile. But what seems to be the takeaway here is the talent of writer/director Jayro Bustamante, who has delivered a film that garnered worldwide recognition.


That’s no small feat for a filmmaker from Central America, who unfortunately doesn’t have the same access to international markets that people from other parts of the world do. Since he was able to break out with his debut feature, he should definitely be marked as a filmmaker to keep tabs on.

Ixcanul is directed by Jayro Bustamante and stars María Mercedes Coroy, María Telón, and Manuel Antún. It will be released in the U.S. on August 19th, 2016. For international release dates, click here.

Do you think Ixcanul can find an audience internationally? Let us know in the comments!

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