CDMX.- For the Mexican director María Sojob being a filmmaker has been an act of courage and rebellion that he does not intend to leave while his indigenous origins outline his projects and he lives an unstoppable fight against machismo in his community.
“It has happened to me that I dream of many things and I say that I am going to do them and when they tell me that it is not possible – because that is what they told me, that I would never be on television – I insisted more on making it happen” , relates Sojob in interview with Eph, and he fulfilled it.
When Sojob was a child, at the beginning of 1994, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) movement made history and put the name of the Mexican state of Chiapas in the world public dialogue.
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At just 10 years old, María watched what was happening in her place of origin from her grandfather’s “treasure,” a very small black-and-white television that only broadcast the news in Spanish, not in her mother tongue, Tsotsil.
“I thought how many people in my community could understand what was happening if everything was in Spanish,” he recalls.
The children’s games allowed her to imagine that she could transmit messages from Chenalhó (Ch’enalvo’), in her own language and with her on board.
“That was staying in my mind and in my heart and when I had the opportunity to continue studying it was a privilege,” he says.
Sojob was lucky to have access to education and she knows it was because her parents were indigenous school teachers.
“It’s not that they had studied, my mom just finished elementary school and my dad was a farmer, but there was an education program for indigenous populations and they called them,” he says.
María grew up in schools in remote places of Chiapas, her destiny was to be a teacher like her parents, but her first act of rebellion was to renounce that family calling to study Communication Sciences in Mexico City.
“(The rebellion) is something that I have grown up with and it has to do with my family background, I come from a family of rebellious men and women, my own mother rebelled and left the community because she did not want to be married to the 11 years, that’s where that tenacity comes from,” he says.
That was the first step of many other very hard and difficult ones that her resources and her status as a woman imposed on her, in a macho society.
Fulfill the first dream
After her studies, María began to give the news in Tzotzil as she dreamed, she recorded reports, interviews and suddenly found herself making documentary films.
The next step was deciding between staying with her husband and daughter or studying film in Chile; she chose the latter and the cost of her decision is something she continues to pay, “society highly condemns being a mother,” she thinks.
His cinema has allowed him to tell a purer and more personal vision that education and the mass media had kept silent for years.
“There is a constant process of colonization in all areas, it is up to us to build narratives based on our own thoughts, views and with the efforts of the State to make intercultural education possible,” she yearns.
His work includes “Voces de hoy”, a documentary that portrays the musical movement of young Tsotzil in rock, “Bankilal” (2015) and “Tote (grandfather)” (2019).
After several years of not residing entirely in her community, María has returned and with it have returned the revealing dreams that characterize the Tsotziles and that she had ceased to have.
Among her current projects is her effort to bring film productions to the community where she lives with the Bolomchom Cinema, she is also finishing filming “Por la vida”, a film in which she portrays Lenca women from Honduras who create feminist projects in their communities.
And in addition, she is looking for financing for a new film based on a ceremonial speech that she dreamed of and that will involve her in a personal and very particular way in the film.
“There is only one woman in the community who speaks, she is a lady over 70 years old who does not know how old she is because she is not guided by schedules or clocks, and it is about my learning process in the ceremonial speech,” he says. .
But the closest struggle he lives with on a daily basis is the machismo of his community.
“I have felt that the sexist issue in the community is stronger, the voices of women in the assemblies are annulled and when it is my turn to speak they do not like what I say, this is defending and fighting for the word,” he says.
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María, like many other directors, is part of the Compendium of Contemporary Filmmakers promoted by the Morelia International Film Festival and the BBVA Art Scholarship.
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