Culture

This New Netflix Documentary Will Show The World The Rich Cultural And Environmental Beauty Of Guatemala

You might love or hate the fact that streaming services have changed the way in which we watch television, but there is no denying that we have way more entertainment options than before, and that the depth and reach of the topics that are accessible cover almost the whole planet. Through streaming services we can learn about other cultures, particularly through documentaries, a genre that is getting more financial resources and wider audiences.

A few years ago documentaries used to be the boring stuff that abuelitos watched when the soccer season was off, but they are becoming increasingly relevant to popular culture with releases such as the true crime series “Making a Murderer”, which got folk really obsessed. 

But documentaries are also a way to travel without leaving your couch. So key to fostering a different and more nuanced view of Latin America (a region that has been vilified during the Trump years through harrowing and sometimes over the top migration stories) is the dissemination of documentaries that showcase the cultural and natural richness of the continent.

A new Netflix production promises to do exactly this: the feature “Guatemala: Corazón del Mundo Maya” (Guatemala: The Heartland of the Maya World)  will prove that the Central American country is a beautiful place with plenty of past, a present that us trying to come to terms with recent historical trauma, and a future that is promising. 

The documentary will be available from November 30 and promises to showcase the natural and cultural beauty of the Central American country.

Credit: Guatemala: Corazón del Mundo Maya / Netflix

Particularly as recent geopolitical understandings of Central America in the United States tend to characterize the region and its inhabitants as troubled and a “nuisance” in regards to migration, the fact that a Netflix documentary focuses in las bondades of Guatemala is a welcome development. The documentary will be a cultural and geological survey of the country, and is directed by Luis Ara and Ignacio Jaunsolo. It will be narrated by Christian Morales. This audiovisual journey will take us from the mountain range Sierra de las Minas to Esquipulas and Chiquimula. Netflix has also delved into the ancient traditions of other Latin American countries such as Peru and its Inca legacy. 

Sure, Mexico has a rich Mayan heritage, but Guatemala tiene lo suyo!

Audiences will get to know important tourist sites such as Antigua (perhaps the most Insta ready city in the world!), but also be witness to the glorious Mayan past that has permeated Guatemalan culture, language and identity for centuries. Archeological sites such as Peten will be showcased, alongside cultural manifestations such as traditional attires. Production lasted for about seven months, a lengthy shooting. The music was created by artists such as Eric Kinny, Songs of Water, Luke Atencio, Thad Kopec, On Earth, CHPTRS, Ryan Taubert, Kingpinguïn, Albatross, A. Taylor, Dexter Britain, Jordan Critz, Tony Anderson and Kerry Muzzey, 

So Netflix wants to compete with NatGeo in exploring the Mayan world.

Netflix realized that NatGeo documentaries about the mystic Mayan world had good ratings, particularly due to the obsession that some Global North countries had with this ancient civilization after the year 2012, which according to some interpretations of Mayan codes would signal the end of the world. And well, we all know that didn’t happen right?

BTW, now that Star Wars fever is at an all time high… did you know the Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala were feature in Episode IV: A New Hope?

Credit: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope / Lucas Films

There you go, you can surprise and impress even your geekiest friends with this piece of warsie trivia! Tikal was used as the location of a rebel base in the planet of Yavin 4. As the Wookiepeedia states: “The shot where a Rebel oversees the Millennium Falcon landing on Yavin was taken on top of a building known as Temple IV looking east where Temples I, II and III can be seen on film”. So yes, Han Solo has been in Guatemala! 

And there are other Latin American documentaries on Netflix that are totally worth checking out. We recommend “Lorena: Light-footed woman”!

Credit: Ready Set Cut

Our favorite is “Lorena: Light-footed Woman”, which follows an indigenous ultramarathon woman of tarahumara descent who follows her people’s tradition of running in the mountains for distances that far surpass a traditional marathon. And they do this up high in the mountains, where oxygen is scarce. They are some of the most resilient athletes in the world! This documentary was shot by Juan Carlos Rulfo, an experienced filmmaker and son of writer Juan Rulfo, perhaps the greatest scribe that Mexico has ever produced. 

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Netflix’s Newest Musical Teen Hit Series Stars a 16-Year-Old Afro-Latina Newcomer

Entertainment

Netflix’s Newest Musical Teen Hit Series Stars a 16-Year-Old Afro-Latina Newcomer

A new teen series has dropped on Netflix that the internet can’t stop talking about. The newest cultural phenomenon that has hit the juggernaut streaming service is a musical series called Julie and the Phantoms, based on the 2011 Brazilian show of the same name.

The series follows a 16-year-old insecure girl named Julie who has lost her love of music after the tragic death of her mother. But with the help of a (stay with us here) band of musical ghosts she stumbles across in her garage, she soon re-discovers her love of singing and performing. Backed by her band of “phantoms”, Julie confidently takes the stage again, blowing everyone away in the process. ,

But the wacky, heartfelt story-line isn’t the only reason people are excited about the show. The buzz around the show is building because its star, 16-year-old newcomer Madison Reyes, is an Afro-Latina singer-actress of Puerto Rican descent.

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Before landing the role of Julie, Reyes was just a regular shmegular Nuyorican girl going to high school in Brooklyn. Needless to say, the process of auditioning for Julie and the Phantoms was both a whirlwind and a game-changer.

“I found out about Julie and the Phantoms through my school. At first I was nervous to send my video in, but after talking to some friends, I sent it in and got a call back,” Reyes told Refinery 29. “From there it was just figuring out when I could fly to L.A. When I finally made it out there, the audition process lasted two days.”

Reyes, for one, understands the burden of her load. “[Julie] is Latin American, she’s got textured hair, she’s a strong and independent female character,” Reyes recently told the LA Times. “As a person of color who wants more diversity [on-screen], I’m kind of scared about the hate comments that I’ve seen other people have to go through, especially women.”

As if having an Afro-Latina actress at the center of a popular Netflix show wasn’t exciting enough, the series is also being helmed by Mexican-American director and all-around legend Kenny Ortega. For those of you unfamiliar with Ortega, he is the creative genius who directed bonafide classics like High School Musical and Hocus Pocus.

Ortega has been publicly effusive in his praise of Reyes. “She has this raw talent that can take on any genre of music, and this promise of greatness that excited everybody,” he told the LA Times. “And yet she’s so relatable and grounded.”

Fans are already calling for a second season after watching the cliffhanger season finale. Reyes, herself, can’t wait to get back in the shoes of Julie. When asked in an interview about where we’ll see her next, she responded: “Hopefully in the next season of Julie and the Phantoms!”. We second that wish.

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FBI Arrests Jerry Harris From ‘Cheer’ On Production Of Child Pornography Charge

Entertainment

FBI Arrests Jerry Harris From ‘Cheer’ On Production Of Child Pornography Charge

Update: September 17, 2020

Jerry Harris, the “Cheer” fan favorite, has been arrested by the FBI.

According to reports, Harris has been charged in federal court with the production of child pornography. The charge stems from a criminal complaint filed against Harris alleging that he sought sexual acts and photos from minors.

Harris was scheduled to appear before a court magistrate on Thursday to face the charge. The charge of the production of child pornography comes with a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison if he is convicted.

The charges are connected to Harris’ alleged advances on a 13-year-old cheerleader. Harris, who was 19 at the time, was soliciting photos and videos from the minor on Snapchat in 2018. The charge also states that Harris confronted the young cheerleader in the bathroom at a cheerleading event and asked for solicited oral sex.

The news continues to shock and surprise people on social media.

The news broke earlier this week that the FBI had opened an investigation into Harris because of a complaint filed claiming the sexual misconduct. The charge includes several photos, videos, and messages sent between Harris and minors demanding sexually explicit images from the minors.

Original: Cheerleading star Jerry Harris, 21, gained national attention earlier this year when he was introduced to Netflix viewers in a six-part docuseries called “Cheer.” The series followed the nationally ranked Navarro College Bulldogs Cheer Team as they prepared for a Daytona Beach competition. Fans of the show became captivated by Harris a cheerleader whose positivity and energy seemed utterly contagious. Soon after his appearance on the show, Harris rocketed to stardom and made appearances on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” nabbed interviews with Variety magazine, and even made a guest appearance on the cheerleading themed song “Mas(k)ot” by Todrick Hall.

A recent revelation however is revealing that Harris’ standing as a lovable household name is no longer.

Recently, fans of Harris learned of an FBI investigation into him is underway and regards allegations that the celebrity cheerleader solicited sexually explicit photos as well as sex from minors.

In a statement to USA Today, Siobhan Johnson, a FBI special agent and public affairs officer said that “The FBI is conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in the area.”

Harris has not been criminally charged.

The criminal investigation stems from allegations brought forward by 14-year-old twin brothers. The two minors claim that Harris made them endure a pattern of harassment, both online and at cheer competitions. The two claim the harassment started when they were 13 and Harris was 19 and continued for over a year.

At the start of August, Varsity Brands, a private company that governs the cheerleading industry, reported to police in Florida and Texas that its Chief Legal Officer Burton Brillhart had learned of “inappropriate sexual conduct” allegations against Harris. Brillhart reported the information to police officials as required by law.

“Harris is accused of asking one of the brothers to have sex with him in 2019 at two Varsity cheerleading competitions,” reports USA Today.

“As a result of the recent allegation, we have barred this person from having any affiliation with Varsity Brands or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, now and in the future,” Brillhart wrote.

Brillhart described Harris as a former employee and emphasized that he was no longer actively working for Varsity at the time of when the alleged incidents took place.

The current lawsuit against Harris claims that the Netflix star solicited explicit photos from the twin brothers and also asked one of the twins for oral sex.

So far, Harris has denied the accusations.

“We categorically dispute the claims made against Jerry Harris, which are alleged to have occurred when he was a teenager,” a spokesperson for Harris said in a statement to Variety. “We are confident that when the investigation is completed the true facts will be revealed.”

The twin brothers are seeking $1 million in damages.

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