January 11, 2014 Film Presentation: Chac: Dios de la lluvia,
or, Chac: The Rain God, in Tzotzil, Lacadon and
Yukatek Maya, with English
Subtitles, courtesy of Dwayne Shreve.
Chac: The Rain God was released in 1975 and
re-released in 2002. It is a unique Mexican feature film, shot in
Tenejapa, Chiapas with amateur Tzoztil actors and speech in Tzotzil
and Lacandon. In addition, Pablo Canche Balam who plays the shaman,
speaks Yukatek Maya. This may be the only feature film made entirely
in Maya languages. After the distributor had gone bankrupt, this
film was forgotten and unavailable for many years until fans and
friends of the director urged him to take out the negative rolls
from a dusty cupboard, and Amazon then released it in 2002.
Director and writer Rolando Klein lived with indigenous people of
Chiapas for two years, cultivating the friendship that made possible
the production of such an extraordinary film. When the film
commences, the villagers are desperate, because rain has not come as
expected. The shaman has not been able to deliver, and the village
has lost faith in him. They need help from outside. And so it is
that 12 young men from the village embark on a journey to find the
man who can make rain return: a shaman from the Lacandon jungle. He
promises to bring rain if the whole village will participate in a
rain ritual. But the question is: Can he really control the rain?
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