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Filmography - Indigenous Peoples of the Americas: Mesoamerica

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of March 2011

Filmography - Indigenous Peoples of the Americas - Mesoamerica

Titles available on DVD and streaming video as of March 2011. 

Most streaming videos listed are available exclusively to AU students, staff and faculty after an online authentications by AUID#.

Filmographies are created by doing multiple keyword searches in the ALADIN catalog to capture as many titles on a topic as possible. To find titles acquired after this filmography was last updated, use keyword searching in ALADIN (


Approach of Dawn: Forging Peace in Guatemala 1997. 1 streaming video file (53 min.). A 36-year civil war has left over 150,000 dead and more than 1 million displaced in Guatemala. This program presents stirring portraits of three Mayan women and their efforts on behalf of peace. Adela, a widow, bravely sustains her refugee family. Justina tirelessly travels the countryside explaining the human rights movement to fellow villagers. Francesca, a Mayan priestess, reaffirms the cultural identity of her people. Stunning photography evokes the Mayan Popol Vuh creation story and punctuates the women's courageous struggle. (53 minutes). E-resource only

La Batalla de los dioses El espejo enterrado : reflexiones sobre Espaäna y el nuevo mundo / Carlos Fuentes: Espejo enterrado. 2006. 1 videodisc (59 min.). In his lifetime Carlos Fuentes has witnessed the rediscovery of ancient Aztec temples beneath the central square of modern Mexico City. He retraces the Indian world through their magnificent pyramids and sculptures. The return of their exiled god was forecast for the very year Cortâes reached their shores. The savagery of the conquistador equaled that of the Indian, but he brought with him a new god, a god who sacrificed himself for men. VHS 6491 and DVD 7457

Chichen Itza At the Mouth of the Well 2001. 1 streaming video file (27 min.). The fusion of Mayan construction techniques with later elements from central Mexico makes Chichen Itza one of the most important examples of the Mayan-Toltec civilization in Yucatan. In this program, archaeological footage and computer re-creations spotlight prominent locations in the city, including the imposing Pyramid of Kukulcan, the Temple of the Warriors, the circular observatory known as El Caracol, the largest ball court in Mesoamerica, and the Well of Sacrifice-a sacred water-filled cenote into which votive offerings and human sacrifices were cast. (27 minutes). E-resource only

Chichén Itzá At the Mouth of the Well. Living stones: Living stones (Films for the Humanities & Sciences (Firm)). 2001. 1 videodisc (27 min.). The fusion of Mayan construction techniques with later elements from central Mexico makes Chichén Itzá one of the most important examples of the Mayan-Toltec civilization in Yucatán. In this program, archaeological footage and computer re-creations spotlight prominent locations in the city, including the imposing Pyramid of Kukulcán, the Temple of the Warriors, the circular observatory known as El Caracol, the largest ball court in Mesoamerica, and the Well of Sacrifice, a sacred water-filled cenote into which votive offerings and human sacrifices were cast. DVD 4847

Conquest and Colony-Spanish with Optional English Subtitles 2008. 1 streaming video file (47 min.). To the European imagination, America was a tabula rasa, a virgin territory. As this program describes, narrative art forms were essential to making sense of this exotic Eden and the possibilities it offered. New Spain became a place for re-creating myths and legends of the Western literary canon, for transforming poetry, prose, and epic literature. The diaries of Columbus, Bartolome de las Casas' History of the Indies, Bernal Diaz' True History of the Conquest of New Spain, and Bernardino de Sahagun's Florentine Codex are explored along with works from indigenous authors of the early colonial period-such as Ixtlilxochitl (History of the Chichimec Nation), Munoz Camargo (History of Tlaxcala), and Alvarado Tezozomoc (Mexicayotl Chronicle). An FFH&S/Tranquilo Production. (Spanish with optional English subtitles, 47 minutes). E-resource only

Democracia indigena. Ethnographic video online. 2005. 1 streaming video (39 min.). The indigenous rights movement in Mexico is illustrated by following the 1998 municipal elections in Huehuetla, Puebla. Huehuetla is the only municipality where Indians have taken power away from non-Indians and have governed themselves for nearly ten years. The film examines the dynamics of power, ethnicity, and religion at play as Totonac Indians seek to maintain their autonomy. E-resource only;764173

Eréndira la indomable 2009. 1 videodisc (107 min.). The legend of Erendira tells of a brave young Indian woman who took up arms against the Spanish conquistadors during their 16th century invasion of Latin America. DVD 5208

Juan Rulfo 1998. 1 streaming video file (47 min.). Unlike the reputations of many of his more prolific contemporaries, Juan Rulfo's is based on only two works: Pedro Paramo, one of the few Latin American novels of that time to successfully lay bare the inner lives of country people, and El llano en llamas, a collection of short stories. In this program, the late author-a leading exponent of magic realism-analyzes both of those works. He describes his tragic childhood as well, including the Cristero revolt, his family's financial ruin, the death of his father and mother, and his life in an orphanage in Guadalajara. (Spanish, 47 minutes, b&w). DVD 1800 and E-resource

The Mayans. 1996. 1 streaming video file (47 min.). The most advanced of the pre-Hispanic peoples of Central America, the Mayans rose to great prominence, only to suddenly decline around the year AD 900. In this program, cultural historian Iain Grain delves into Mayan history, investigating topics such as the Mayans' mastery of mathematics, their extremely hierarchical society, their use of human sacrifice to induce rain, and Mayan art. Many examples of Mayan architecture are provided as well, plus a computer re-creation of the temple at Chichen Itza. Although there are still more than two million native Mayans living in Central America, the exact origins of their ancestors and the fate of the ancient Mayan cities remain mysteries. (47 minutes). E-resource only

Mesoamerica The Rise and Fall of the City-States 2001. 1 streaming video file (26 min.). Filmed on location in central and southern Mexico, this program touches on the Mayan, Toltec, and Aztec cultures-and a civilization that preceded them all at a city dubbed Teotihuacan by Nahuatl-speakers centuries after its fall. Expert commentary and 3-D computer images shed light on the complex societies that emerged, grew strong, and disappeared in the highlands and lowlands of Mesoamerica. (27 minutes). E-resource only

Muxe's, autâenticas, intrâepidas buscadoras del peligro = Authentic, intrepid seekers of danger 2006. 1 videodisc (101 min.). Among the Zapotec Indians of Oaxaca, Mexico, boy babies who are born in a certain position, or little boys who prefer to play with girls, are raised as women, and are known as Muxes (pronounced "Mooshays").  The Muxes of Juchitâan are proud of their identity, enjoy their lives, laugh at themselves as well as at "straight" society, and admit their own foibles freely. They call themselves "Authentic, Intrepid Seekers of Danger," and have banded together to lead the fight against AIDS in Oaxaca. In this documentary, they talk frankly about their experiences of acceptance and rejection, and their successes in finding freedom, love and delight in their special identity. DVD 1216

The new Americans 2009. 2 videodiscs (411 min.). Follows four years of the lives of a group of contemporary immigrants as they journey to start new lives in America, including a couple from India in Silicon Valley, a Mexican meatpacker in rural Kansas, two families of Nigerian refugees, two baseball players from the Dominican Republic joining the L.A. Dodgers, and a newly-wed Palestinian woman in Chicago. The detailed portraits of these immigrants not only result in a kaleidoscope of immigrant life but offer 'first impressions' of America. DVD 5704

El norte Feature film. 2008. 1 videodisc (140 min.). Mayan Indian peasants are tired of being thought of as nothing more than manual laborers. They organize an effort to improve their lot in life, but are discovered by the Guatemalan army. After the army destroys their village and family, Enrique and Rosa, a teenage brother and sister, who barely escaped the massacre, decide they must flee to United States. After receiving clandestine help from friends and humorous advice from a veteran immigrant on strategies for traveling, they make their way by truck, bus and other means to Los Angeles, where they try to make a new life as young, uneducated, and illegal immigrants. VHS 154 and DVD 5225

A place called Chiapas 1998. 1 videodisc (ca. 92 min.). Documentary on the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico filmed over an eight month period. VHS 6489 and DVD 1312

Popol vuh Ethnographic video online. 2007. 1 streaming video (10 min.). "This animated short from Chile tells the tale of creation based on 'Popul vuh: the ancient stories of the Quiché,' written by the iindigenous Maya Quiché people after the Spanish Conquest. The vibrant illustrations are taken from Mayan codices, paintings found on vessels, and stones carved with scenes from the 'Popul vuh' between the years 300-900 A.D. Accompanying the narrator is original music performed with pre-Columbian and other ethnographic instruments from the Americas. The text relates solely to the creation of the world and humankind, and gives the viewer a unique look into Mayan culture and history"-- Container. E-resource only;763766

Popol vuh sacred book of the Quiché Maya 1989. 1 videodisc (61 min.). Portrays the creation myth of the Quiché Maya of ancient Guatemala. Gives life to the mystic history and art of the Maya, using animated drawings taken directly from classic Maya pottery. VHS 1783 and DVD 121

Pre-Columbian Literature-Spanish with Optional English Subtitles 2008. 1 streaming video file (45 min.). The history and social structures of Latin America's native peoples were neither simple nor peaceful before the arrival of Europeans. Wars were fought, empires were created and destroyed, and-as this program illustrates-narrative tapestries of fact and fiction were woven in the process. Underscoring the linguistic sophistication that flourished for thousands of years in the region, the program addresses the proliferation of Nahuatl and Quechua literature, the codices and quipu of Mayan and Incan societies, and other ancient forms of written and oral communication. Although mythical accounts-including the Popol Vuh, the Chilam Balam, the Apu Ollantay, and the Runa yndio-are analyzed on several levels, they are most notably linked with the agendas of pre-Columbian social hierarchies. An FFH&S/Tranquilo Production. (Spanish with optional English subtitles, 45 minutes). E-resource only

El pueblo mexicano que camina: A long journey to Guadalupe Ethnographic video online . 1996. 1 streaming video (97 min.). Explores the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico. E-resource only;764061

Rigoberta Menchu: Broken Silence. 1 streaming video file (25 min.). In recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliationshe was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 12, 1992. The celebration of Columbus is for us an insult,said Menchu, one of the most outspoken and articulate and persuasive advocates of native rights. This program presents a profile of this extraordinary woman, whose life has become a symbol of the sufferings, not only of her own Mayan Quiche people, but of all the indigenous people of the Americas. It is a moving portrait, too, of a self-taught woman who dreams of two things: a Guatemalan Congress integrating indigenous and non-indigenous men and women-and having a child so I can plant my own seed, for better or worse. VHS 3507 and E-resource

Rigoberta Menchu: Cassandra and crusader 1 streaming video file (28 min.). Rigoberta Menchu has become widely known as a leading advocate of Indian rights and ethno-cultural reconciliation-and also a center of controversy-not only in her native Guatemala, but throughout the western hemisphere. In this program, Menchu, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and other international awards, talks about her life both at home and in exile, her autobiographical I, Rigoberta Menchu, her associations with the Committee of the Peasant Union and The United Representation of the Guatemalan Opposition, and other topics. (Spanish with English subtitles). E-resource only

Sastun Ethnographic video online. 2002. 1 streaming video (20 min.). Sastun tells the story of American herbalist Rosita Arvigo, whose quest to explore the healing powers of plants led her to the rain forest of Belize where she befriended one of the last remaining Maya shamans, Don Elijio Panti. E-resource only;763792

The sixth sun Mayan uprising in Chiapas 2005. 1 videodisc (56 min.). An examination of the events during and following the peasant uprising in Chiapas in 1994. VHS 5538 and DVD 7514

Tajimoltik: Five days without name = Cinq jours sans nom Ethnographic video online. 199. 1 streaming video (30 min.). Depicts the celebration of a special part of the ancient Tzotzil calendar known as "the days without name," which coincides with Holy Week. Shows the combined elements from Spanish Catholicism and traditional Tzotzil rituals. Reflections on the meaning of the colorful events are offered by the French priest Michel Chanteau. E-resource only;763870


When the mountains tremble 2004. 1 videodisc (83 min.). A documentary describing the struggle of the Indian peasantry in  Guatemala against state and foreign oppression. Uses a variety of forms -- interviews, direct address, newsreels, re-inactmemts, video transmissions, and on-the-spot footage shot at great hazard. Loosely centered on the experiences of 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchù. VHS 739 and DVD 5009