It’s funny, some time ago I tried to explain to a friend who’s from abroad all about Hanal Pixan, Pib, and everything pertaining to this beautiful tradition which takes place in Yucatán at the beginning of November each year. If I’m honest, I didn’t know quite how to describe the details, and I had particular difficulty on transmitting the meaning that this Day of the Dead celebration has for Yucatecos.
A few days ago on Youtube, I came across some short films that depict Maya – Mestizo traditions and customs in the most precise way I have seen. The channel is called: Cine Janal. And these short films would have definitely been useful to offer my friend a better explanation!
I wrote to, and then met with Miguel Ventura, the person behind all the magic. We sat and spoke comfortably under the shade of a tree in the Plaza Principal, and he told me the story of how he started his wonderful Youtube channel.
From a young age, he felt a passion for filmmaking. After gaining work experience and training in different film workshops, with help from his mentor he made his first short film “El venado en la niebla” (the deer in the fog) which won an award at the Morelia Film Festival.
This experience is what made him want to be a full-time filmmaker. But it was a particular encounter, while he was working as a cook which inspired him to create Cine Janal. After cooking egg with mint, one of his patrons recalled the memory of his mother who prepared that very dish. The feeling of nostalgia that the diner expressed inspired Miguel to create short films that produce this same effect and arouse the emotions of the viewers.
If you’ve ever seen any of his shorts, you’ll know that food has a starring role. For Miguel, these short films could be classified as recipe books in film since they always include the recipe to Yucatecan specialties.
The short films are always titled after a traditional dish of Yucatán, so on the channel you will find: Huevito con Chaya, El Tikinxic, El Relleno Negro, and El Pib. Each of these tells an interesting story along with the recipe and procedure to prepare the starring dish.
With a relatively small budget, Miguel shows everyone that with inventiveness, creativity, and passion, one can have a career in film and deliver high quality results that people enjoy watching.
Cine Janal tries to tell stories by using the resources available. “It’s not Indigenous Cinema, it’s just cinema” Miguel points out.
In the future, he looks to expand to other states and make short films that include recipes from other parts of México, making this a nation-wide project. For the time being, he has his sights set on Tabasco, Campeche, and Quintana Roo.
If you’ve never heard of Cine Janal, look them up on Youtube or Facebook and enjoy the wonderful shorts, which you will no doubt fall in love with. In these films, the sweetest, saddest, and funniest stories have been shared, along with the most delicious recipes, all just waiting to be discovered.
Facebook: Cine Janal
- Huevito con Chaya
- The Pib (in English)
- El Tikin Xiik’ Asado
- El Relleno Negro
Editorial by Claudia Améndola
Photography by Mario Arnal for use in Yucatán Today.
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