Mayan monster wants to save children’s cinema

In a small town in Yucatán, there is a hermit who is rumored to throw children into a cenote, those deep wells that feed on the filtration of rain.

Fortunately, it is only fiction and its story, along with that of a boy who tries to unravel the mystery, will be told in Monster of Xibalbá, Manuela Irene Espitia’s debut work, whose filming would start in the last two months of the year.

The project is the first endorsed by the call for Film Production for Children, from the new Fomento al Cine México (Focine), which just released the latest results.

“It is a movie of these that focuses on the stage of growing up, of those small events that make us mature; the protagonist is a boy who is completely abandoned by his parents who are divorced, then summer vacation arrives, nobody wants to take care of him and they send him to his Mayan nanny. Already in town she meets some children who are afraid for this hermit ”, says the filmmaker.

Monster of Xibalbá is a script that Irene Espitia has been writing for a decade. The cast is conformed because the child must be 10 years old, an age in which in a matter of months he grows up and that makes it difficult to make an early choice.

The film will have dialogues in Mayan, for which it had a translator to write the script, but the idea is to have infants who are bilingual, also speaking Spanish.

“I am going to look for Rogelio (character’s name) in schools, small theaters, at cake stands, everywhere,” says Espitia.

For the little ones

Cinema made for children and with small protagonists is something rare in Mexican cinema. In the last 20 years, only a handful of stories have done it like this: Atlético San Pancho, Bacalar and Por mis mustaches are some of them.

“When I started watching movies I watched movies like My first kiss and they impressed me a lot, it was my first approach to the cinema and when I started to get more interested I saw things like The White Balloon and 400 blows, I was shocked by those with children as protagonists and from there my interest in writing arose ”, he says.

Manuela Irene studied at Centro, a school in Mexico City and at the London Films School she obtained her master’s degree in screenwriting. His short film Sol del llano, starring a girl, competed at the Morelia International Film Festival 2019.

His father lives in Yucatán, which is why he knows the Mayan culture. He will take advantage of his family’s properties and the areas he has stepped on, for the filming.

Xibalba, in Mayan mythology, referred to an underworld of the Quitché or K’iche ‘people, an underground and dark place where the Mayan heroes Hunahpu and Xbalanque forged their legend. The people who created the myth were the Quitché.