Film Presentation: Chac: Dios de la lluvia / Chac: The Rain God (1975)
in Tzotzil, Lacadon, and Yukatek Maya, with English Subtitles, courtesy of Dwayne Shreve
Chac: The Rain God is a unique Mexican feature film, shot in Tenejapa, Chiapas with amateur Tzoztil actors and speech in Tzotzil and Lacandon. In addition, Pablo Canche Balam who plays the shaman, speaks Yukatek Maya. This may be the only feature film made entirely in Maya languages. After the distributor had gone bankrupt, this film was forgotten and unavailable for many years until fans and friends of the director urged him to take out the negative rolls from a dusty cupboard, and Amazon then re-released it in 2002.
Director and writer Rolando Klein lived with indigenous people of Chiapas for two years, cultivating the friendship that made possible the production of such an extraordinary film. When the film commences, the villagers are desperate, because rain has not come as expected. The shaman has not been able to deliver, and the village has lost faith in him. They need help from outside. And so it is that 12 young men from the village embark on a journey to find the man who can make rain return: a shaman from the Lacandon jungle. He promises to bring rain if the whole village will participate in a rain ritual. But the question is: Can he really control the rain?