I was invited to see a film by a local crew, one that focused on a town in the Isthmus of Oaxaca, San Blas Atempa. The film, Atempa: Sueños a orillas del río /Atempa: Dreams by the River, is by Edson Jair Caballero Trujillo and is categorized as a sexual diversity documentary. In addition to addressing the political unrest and challenges of this area, it also presents the lives of muxes, homosexual men, who take on “women’s roles” in society, learning to sew, cook, clean, etc. More specifically, the film tracks the growth and development of three characters. The story of one muxe in particular is the centerpiece as we see him from the age of seven or eight when he first began to cross-dress, to his fiesta de quince años, to his rein as a the queen of the Gazelle Ball.
It is a moving and artful longitudinal study of this intimate setting, and the director’s attention to detail and vision for this masterpiece amplify the everyday lives of people struggling to pursue their dreams in the face of corruption, rejection, death, and life itself.
Although a mostly anthropological/ethnographic film, Trujillo has added magical realism in bringing to life the dreams of his three main subjects. This element is fantastic in every sense of the word and made me almost forget that these are real people. However, in the end, it is these people we want to know more about. Why end the study at eight years? We need to know more!