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Mexico Releases First Maya-Speaking Television Soap Opera

A landmark new soap opera in the Maya language titled "Baktun" is due to have its premiere on Mexican television. 2013-07-26 11:37 AM EST Last Updated: 2013-07-26 09:20 PM EST

A soap opera called "Baktun" spoken entirely in Maya will premiere to Mexican television audiences, featuring Maya actors from the Yucatan Peninsula with their dialogue captioned in Spanish.

The 21-episode soap series, which premiered at Mexico City's National Museum of Anthropology in June, will be aired by Quintana Roo state television in August and is it set to hit YouTube soon.

The project—which focuses on modern Maya communities living in the Yucatan Peninsula and the problems they face—aims to preserve the indigenous language.

"Baktun" is produced and directed by documentary filmmaker Bruno Carcamo.

[Bruno Carcamo, Filmmaker]:
"Baktun is a project of two works at the same time. It's a soap opera as well as a feature-film, spoken entirely in Maya and filmed in Maya-speaking towns in Quintana Roo. It's a project that essentially looks to empower the use of the Maya tongue. To make it useful, seen on mass media, so that neither the tongue nor culture are lost. Once a language is lost, the culture closely follows."

Carcamo says Maya towns become deserted for two hours every afternoon, when people go in-doors to watch Spanish soap operas and dramas, and afterwards the people talk in Spanish.

Baktun aims at encouraging Mayas to speak in their own tongue and gives the community a soap opera of their own to watch.

[Bruno Carcamo, Filmmaker]:
"It's a classical soap opera—archetype; a love triangle; two brothers who confront each other to gain the love of a woman. One of them, in addition, wants to save his community. The other one, deceived by a villain, manages to help destroy the community. But also, through the documentary, we are able to see where these people live. As we don't use fictional scenography, the homes are real. You can see, first hand, what a community looks like. What it's like to walk into the dining room of these people. What the day-to-day life is like and what they see as important."

Maya actor, Miguel Kamuil, says it’s important to rescue the Maya tongue.

[Miguel Kamuil, Maya actor]:
"In the short time youngsters go out to work elsewhere, they want to forget our mother tongue, the Maya. Baktun helps to retake everything valuable we have."

There are an estimated seven-hundred-and-fifty-thousand people who speak the Maya language in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

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