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TIFF Buy: Kino Lorber Grabs Guatemala’s First-Ever Foreign Oscar Entry

TIFF Buy: Kino Lorber Grabs Guatemala's First-Ever Foreign Oscar Entry

Kino Lorber has acquired North American rights to Berlinale Alfred Bauer prize winner “Ixcanul,” Guatemala’s first official entry in the Foreign Language Oscar race. Comparisons to Werner Herzog have been attached to the film, previously titled “Ixcanul Volcano.”

Directed by debut filmmaker Jayro Bustamante, the film follows Mayan teen Maria, who resides with her parents while working on a coffee plantation on an active volcano in Guatemala. Her status as an indigenous woman keeps her big-city dreams in check, until an arranged wedding is set up for her, and a snake-bite thrusts her into the modern world.

Kino Lorber plans to open “Ixcanul,” which has garnered raves on the circuit, in theaters next year after a VOD and home video release. Kino Lorber also recently snapped up Jewish faith drama “Tikkun,” another Telluride entry (but it’s skipping Toronto for Fantastic Fest).

READ MORE: Foreign Oscar Entries So Far

Herewith some “Ixcanul” reviews so far:

A young Mayan woman finds herself at a crossroads between the ancient and modern worlds in “Ixcanul Volcano,” a transporting, hypnotically beautiful debut feature from Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante. A simple, fable-like movie made in close collaboration with a real Mayan farming community from the Guatemalan highlands, Bustamante’s film is downright Herzogian (far more than Herzog’s own “Queen of the Desert”) in its surfeit of physical detail, observed ritual and looming clash of civilizations.

Further deepening the sensory appeal of “Ixcanul Volcano,” farm-noises, indigenous music and the volcano’s near-incessant susurrant rumblings are conjured into an impressive, organic soundscape by sound-designers Eduardo Caceres and Julien Cloquet. Bustamante may be a relative greenhorn himself, but his choice of seasoned collaborators augurs well: son of the legendary cinematographer Ghislain, Cloquet boasts which credits stretch back to the seventies, and include a rather steamier variation on the female-sexuality theme, Jean-Jacques Beneix’s “Betty Blue.”

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