The Guatemalan film Ixcanul by Jayro Bustamante has gained critical acclaimed in its solid theatrical release in the United States, earning raving reviews from the country's most prestigious publications. The film has been selected as a critics' pick by the New York Times, the Village Voice, and the L.A Weekly, and stands with a 100% critics approval rating in the popular Rotten Tomatoes website.
"Jayro Bustamante offers an unforgettable portrait of Mayan life in Ixcanul’ is the title of Stephanie Merry's enthusiastic review of the film for the Washington Post, and characterizes the performance of María Mercedes Coroy in the starring role of María as "riveting." Justin Chang writing for the Los Angeles Times describes it as "a vividly observed debut feature" and "quivers with a fierce if understated feminine energy."
The San Francisco Chronicle also raves about Bustamante's film by the hand of critic David Lewis describing it as "lyrical," "beautifully shot," and with "a powerful story to tell," while RogerEbert.com's Alissa Wilkinson calls it "a mesmerizing, understated tragedy."
A fusion of fact and fable, Ixcanul is a dreamlike depiction of the daily lives of Kaqchikel-speaking Mayans on a coffee plantation at the base of an active volcano. Immersing the audience in its characters’ customs and beliefs, Ixcanul chronicles, with unblinking realism, a disappearing tradition and a disappearing people.
The film opened last Friday, August 19 at the IFC Center in New York City to solid box office numbers, expanding its run into a second week. The film opens tomorrow Friday, August 26 in three additional cities: San Francisco (and Berkeley), Los Angeles, and Washington D.C., followed by additional engagements throughout the fall in other parts of the country.
Ixcanul, which had already made history by becoming the most awarded Guatemalan film in history—including the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer prize at the Berlinale, the most prestigious film prize ever received by a Central American production—is also marking a milestone for Central American cinema in the United States.