DER Documentary

A Long Journey to Guadalupe

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by Juan Francisco Urrusti (Instituto National Indigenista)
color, 97 min, 1996

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The veneration for Tonantzin-Guadalupe has been an essential Mexican theme underlying Mexican cultural and political values since the 16th century. Guided by the testimonies of Indigenous people, Mexicans of mixed heritage and Chicanos about this complex subject matter, we can understand why. The film was shot in 16mm and produced between July 1987 and February 1996. Ten years after the 1521 Spanish conquest, young Indian Juan Diego was graced by the apparition of the Mother of God on Tepeyac Hill; a first Bishop of Mexico scoffed at this news, until a further miracle convinced the church to build a basilica in the deity's honor. While encouraging a Virgin Mary "cult" no doubt helped invaders impose Christianity on the populace, scholars point out that earth mother Tonantzin's role in indigenous creeds predate this development by 2,500 years. Thus the "new", compound divinity represented a covert "act of conquest by the Indians over the invading religion", one that developed potent political symbolism during Mexico's various independence struggles. The director, who is Mexican, states that "this is a testimony about the Mexican cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe, where the pilgrims signify the Mexican of all times and the pilgrimages, our history. For me this film literally means a nine year long journey to the unfathomable heart of Mexico and a better world with more peace and social justice." While the filmmaker teaches documentary film at Centro de Capacitacion Cinematografica in Mexico City where he is the head of the Academic Council, he always works together with his wife, social anthropologist Ana Pino Sandoval. This film is of interest in Anthropology, Latin American Studies, Religion and general audiences.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
32nd Chicago International Film Festival, Gold Plaque Award, 1996
Ariel Award Nominee, Mexican Academy of Film Art and Sciences, 1996
Native America's International Exposition, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1996
Margaret Mead Film Festival, 1996
Society For Visual Anthropology, 1997
Cinequest Film Festival, 1997
and many other international festivals and awards

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