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This 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 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 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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