As an industry, traditional and vertical cinema is violent: Luna Marán

Luna Marán is recognized as part of the second generation of Zapotec filmmakers, heirs of knowledge that was transmitted through orality and who have been in charge of pouring it into as many dissemination tools as possible; of young creators who over time, and not so much with money, have drawn a gap, occupied spaces and have become the instruments for the transmission of the knowledge and resistance of their peoples. Marán has become one of the most visible voices abroad.

It is common to see the filmmaker at film festivals, whether she is presenting a film as a director or producer, also participating in a forum or being part of the jury. This is the case of the 19th edition of the Morelia International Film Festival (FICM), where the one born in Guelatao de Juárez in 1986 presents as a producer the short film Koo (Serpent, in Mixtec), directed by the director Nicolás Rojas, also a member of this Zapotec collective that takes turns in the execution of non-hierarchical film projects. In addition, Marán is part of the jury for the Michoacan Selection and for the Mexican Short Film Script Contest.

These issues are the starting point of this conversation between the director and El Economista in Morelia.

The disadvantages of industrialized cinema

“Mixtec cinema is very powerful in Oaxaca and, therefore, in the country. There is Ángeles Cruz, there is Itandehui Jansen, you could even say that Yalitza. The Mixtec people are producing cinema, they are involved in cinematography. It is one of the most powerful of what is being done ”, affirms the director regarding the presentation of Koo, a period film made in the pandemic and for which Nicolás Rojas was assigned as director, with a story set in the year 1100 and based on 12th century Mixtec codices, the prequel to a fictional feature film about which he will not provide details. Koo’s aesthetic and filming quality, the photography, the creative ambition of the minds behind the film are surprising.

“Koo is community cinema, it is the result of those other ways of talking about how a film is made, it ponders the exercise of consensus on decisions, of listening,” says Marán. This is how cinema has been made since its arrival in indigenous communities more than four decades ago, he relates, with its immediate integration into the communal sense of assembly.

“The community in which I live, Guelatao de Juárez, works under the indigenous normative systems or the previously misnamed uses and customs. In these normative systems, the highest authority is the assembly, an exercise of very broad consensus. That accommodation in a work team makes things work differently. You don’t need to yell at anyone on set. There is a level of sophistication and protocols to everything, a very conscious exercise of role rotation that enriches and understands the diversity of stories we want to tell. Instead of concentrating power, we are committed to enriching our projects ”.

Instead, he explains, “the problem with traditional, industrial cinema is that it is vertical and entails many types of violence, labor, economic, and gender. It is the same as any industry that seeks the exploitation of many for the concentration of resources in very few people. In the end, the cinema is one more industry and uses all the traditional mechanisms of exploitation. When the concentration of wealth is privileged, forces end up exploiting people’s bodies, resources, territories ”.

The filmmaker Luna Marán adds that “the cultural struggle”, that of social syncretism that leads her generation, is just as important as the one that her parents and grandparents fought, “because each generation has made this struggle to resist to place our stories and avoid that those hegemonic ones are imposed ”.

An individual, the genius, the redeemer

The tragedy of the capitalist logic of cinema, the director of the well-received documentary Uncle Yim (2019) expands, as has historically happened in much of artistic expressions and the exercise of thought, is that it places an individual, usually a man, as “the great creator, which is the same as thinking that there is only one god who can do everything.” In other words, he details, “from the homocentric, individualistic logic that came to us with the Colony, it is thought that it is the genius, the messiah, who is going to save us”, an aspirational trait that is replicated both in the exercise of art as in what it communicates.

“Art that is sustained by the idea that geniuses exist does nothing more than promote discrimination,” he says and closes: “cinema, like any art, constructs meaning and makes sense. We have been resistance for 500 years, how can we not want to show that there are other ways of existing? The future is communal, as my dad said ”.

About Koo

  • Film made in Guelatao de Juárez, Oaxaca
  • Direction: Nicolás Rojas
  • Screenplay: Nicolás Rojas
  • Photography: Casandra Casasola
  • Production: Casandra Casasola, Nicolás Rojas, Gustavo Cienfuegos, Luis García, Luna Marán, Pablo Martínez and Oscar Tanat

More about Luna Marán

Originally from and a citizen of the Zapotec community of Guelatao de Juárez, Oaxaca, where she has held four community positions. He studied audiovisual arts at UdeG. She is the co-founder of projects such as Campamento Audiovisual Itinerante, Cine Too Lab, and Aqui Cine. She is a producer of films such as La revuelta (2022), Polvo de gallo (2021) and Los años azul (2017), nominated for the Ariel 2018. Director of I look like you so much (2011) and Uncle Yim (2019), “one of the hidden gems of documentary cinema ”according to BBC_REEL. She is also the author of the texts Community cinema or how to learn to listen ?, Our own mirror and Who will put out the fires ?.

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