La Llorona

LA CASA DE PRODUCCIÓN

What’s in the past is in the past.” That simple captioned line thunders throughout Jayro Bustamante’s gripping horror film, La Llorona. But its English translation obscures the more insidious meaning behind the original Spanish, which captures the way Bustamante’s reworking of that well-known Latin American folk tale about a weeping woman relies on the lyrical potential of the ghost story genre. A more artful translation of “Lo que se quedó atrás está atrás” would be “What was left behind remains.” And therein lies the power of La Llorona: its inventive approach to visualizing the pains of a nation’s collective memory. The film is ostensibly a haunted house drama set at the home of a former Guatemalan dictator (based on real-life figure Efraín Ríos Montt). Now retired, the aging general is forced to come face-to- face with the unspeakable genocidal crimes against the Maya Ixil peoples that took place under his watch when supernatural apparitions call forth the trauma of a ravaged nation in the shape of a wide-eyed, ever-watchful young indigenous woman. For being a quietly powerful indictment of justice delayed and a visceral embodiment of accountability politics that rightly centers Guatemala’s indigenous population, La Llorona receives a Peabody.