A young Mayan woman lives with her parents on a coffee harvesting farm at the base of a volcano in the Guatemalan highlands. She is poised to enter an arranged marriage when everything is thrown into chaos. She becomes pregnant with a local boy's child, a secret her determined mother desperately tries to cover up so the impending marriage will not fall apart and dash their hopes of a stable future. From there, Jayro Bustamante's hypnotic debut feature takes a series of startling turns, each one more surprising and revealing than the next. With widescreen cinematography that captures the lush Guatemalan landscape and a brilliant cast of nonprofessional actors, IXCANUL evokes the films of Werner Herzog while finding an identity all its own. It is Guatemala's first–ever submission for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar®. — Beth Hanna
Jayro Bustamante was raised in the Kaqchikel Maya region in Guatemala. His debut feature IXCANUL received the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival and went on to play the Telluride and Toronto film festivals.