The short film, Tiichajil_Good Life imagines an indigenous future and is part of the film series Futures We Dream, a co-production commissioned by the Smithsonian and The Alliance for Media Arts and Culture for the groundbreaking FUTURES exhibit that reopens the Arts and Industries Building in Washington DC on Nov. 20, 2021
At the heart of Tiichajil_Good Life are two Maya-Ixil human rights and environmental defenders. Kaxh Mura’l (also known as Gaspar Cobo Corio) and La’s Chávez (also known as Francisco Chávez Raymundo), were forced to flee the Ixil region in 2019 after they received death threats and colleagues in their circles were assassinated. While being forced to wait in Ciudad Juárez, México as asylum seekers under Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols, they received death threats from a local cartel. Once they entered the U.S., they were held in ICE detention; they are now seeking asylum in the U.S. (This story is part of the narrative of our forthcoming feature film Borderland.)
Kaxh Mura’l was a student and then a tutor at the Ixil University in Nebaj. He is an environmental defender who was working with the Indigenous Authorities of Salquil Grande, Nebaj, around protecting their ancestral lands from outside mining interests. La’s Chávez was a key eyewitness in the genocide case against General Efraín Ríos Montt and has served in the leadership of the Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR).
Kaxh Mura’l and La’s Chávez join Dr. Giovanni Batz, a Maya K’iche’ anthropologist and author from Los Angeles, and Saba, a graffiti artist and muralist from the Navajo Nation/Jemez Pueblo to reflect on what North-South transnational indigenous solidarity could be if there were no borders. Saba then takes their ideas and creates a huge permanent mural on one whole side of a building near the U.S. / México border demonstrating the power of art in visualizing a collective indigenous future. The mural includes the hashtag #MayasInExile, to highlight the plight of the Maya people fleeing Guatemala.
Sara Curruchich, the internationally renowned Maya-Kachiquel singer and songwriter composed and performed the music.
Pamela Yates, Sundance and Academy Award winner, directed Tiichajil_Good Life. She is the director of a trilogy of films about Guatemala: When the Mountains Tremble (1983), Granito: How to Nail a Dictator (2011), and 500 Years (2017), and is in production on a three-part film on immigration titled Borderland.