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Guatemalan Cinema - Culture And Arts - Guatemala

Guatemala's film industry has yet to really take off and remains fledgling and fragile. There is very little institutional support for cinema, and films are made on scant budgets. The current generation of filmmakers is keen to both expose the country's many social issues, focusing on the struggles of its most marginalized people, and to showcase Guatemala's attractiveness and viability as a filmmaking location.

Although international films are shown on theater screens around the country, the diverse climate and geography, from coast to cloud forest and highlands, and improving film production levels have yet to draw many shoots to the Land of the Eternal Spring. Tikal makes an appearance in Star Wars (1977), a season of U.S. reality series Survivor (2005) was set in Yaxhá-Nakúm-Naranjo National Park, and, recently, Looking for Palladin (2008) was filmed in Antigua and Guatemala City.

The country's 36-year civil is popular film fodder: political upheaval and violence are either the story's foreground or background. Mayan culture, past and present, is also mined heavily for content. Documentaries make up a large portion of Guatemalan film, exploring the effects of the war as well as giving attention to social problems, which are rarely covered by the mainstream media. Estrellas de la Linea (2006) documents a football team formed by sex workers and the conflict surrounding their expulsion from a local five-a-side league.

One of Guatemala's most successful film is El Silencio de Neto (1994), the country's first independent film entirely produced by nationals. Luis Argueta's first feature film is an acclaimed, coming-of-age drama set against the events of the 1954 CIA-backed coup. El Norte (1983), though filmed outside of Guatemala, deals with the plight of a teenage Guatemalan brother and sister fleeing from their war-torn home to the United States.

In spite of the dependence on government support and a television monopoly that has limited the attention given to cinema, the quality of Guatemalan productions has been on the rise, and more and more films are getting play and winning accolades in international festivals. Gasolina (2007), a story of the precarious friendships of a group of gasoline-stealing, joyriding teens, won three prizes, including one for the best Latin American entry, at the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain. The film's post-production would not have been possible without the financial benefits that came with the awards.

Back in Guatemala, support for the development of the industry comes from film studies courses and one of Central America's biggest film and television festivals. Every November for over a decade the Icaro Festival, created by Casa Comal–an arts and culture foundation specializing in cinema, has been celebrating Latin American and international works in Guatemala City.

Culture and Arts

Here are other activities in and around Guatemala that may be of interest: Marimba,

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