Jayro Bustamente’s LA LLORONA, winner of Best Film (Venice Days) at the 2019 Venice Film Festival, has been selected as Guatemala’s Official Oscar® entry for Best International Feature Film. LA LLORONA is the third feature from Bustamente, whose 2015 debut film Ixcanul was previously selected as Guatemala’s Official Oscar® entry.
LA LLORONA blends together the terror of both myth and reality into a devastating expose of the genocidal atrocities against the Mayan community in Guatemala. Through a modern retelling of the classic Latin American legend, the film forces a reckoning with not-so-distant crimes. Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú Tum, a survivor of these atrocities, appears in a cameo in the film and has served as a spokesperson, cementing LA LLORONA’s place amongst contemporary genre films such as Get Out, The Babadook, and It Follows which reckon with societal and psychological traumas.
Shudder released the film exclusively on its platform on August 6, 2020, to much critical acclaim; the film currently sits at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. This followed a successful festival run which included screenings at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, and the 2019 BFI London Film Festival.
Indignant retired general Enrique finally faces trial for the genocidal massacre of thousands of Mayans decades ago. As a horde of angry protestors threatens to invade their opulent home, the women of the house—his haughty wife, conflicted daughter, and precocious granddaughter—weigh their responsibility to shield the erratic, senile Enrique against the devastating truths being publicly revealed and the increasing sense that a wrathful supernatural force is targeting them for his crimes. Meanwhile, much of the family’s domestic staff flees, leaving only loyal housekeeper Valeriana until a mysterious young Indigenous maid arrives.
A tale of horror and magical realism, the film reimagines the iconic Latin American fable as an urgent metaphor of Guatemala’s recent history and tears open the country’s unhealed political wounds to grieve a seldom discussed crime against humanity. LA LLORONA marks Jayro Bustamante’s third feature and demonstrates his continued efforts to highlight social inequality in his native Guatemala following his previous titles Temblores (2019) and Ixcanul (2016).
The film stars María Mercedes Coroy (Ixcanul, Bel Canto), Margarita Kénefic (Aro Tolbukhin: En la mente del asesino), Sabrina De La Hoz (Temblores), Juan Pablo Olyslager (Temblores, El Xendra), and Julio Diaz.
LA LLORONA is directed by Bustamante. Bustamante co-wrote the script with Lisandro Sánchez. Bustamante produced the film alongside Gustavo Matheu (Sombras del pasado, Temblores), Georges Renand, and Marina Peralta (Ixcanul, Maria: Lousia).