Price: $350.00

    Code: 2542

    Directed by Aaron Schock
    2016, 38 minutes
    Purchase: $350 | Classroom rental: $125

    An immersive, visually stunning portrait of a childhood on the margins of society by Emmy-nominated director Aaron Schock, La Laguna documents the remarkable journey undertaken by a Mayan adolescent as he tries to navigates the changing world around him in the endangered rain forests of southern Mexico.

    Yu'uk and his younger brother José live a life of exploring mountains, finding wild animals, and most of all, fishing for their family in the enormous lagoon in a constant effort to be just one step ahead of hunger. At age 12, Yu'uk is already an expert of the jungle and is training little José in his footsteps. In his village school, however, Yu'uk finds himself lost in a world he cannot fully comprehend, uneasy with the Spanish language and culture both foreign and beyond his grasp: “I don’t know what Mexico is. Is it a city? I am not too sure.” In response, Yu’uk searches for understanding and identity in the remnants of a vanquished Mayan civilization that still exists in his father’s stories and in the ruins he and José discover around the forest’s enormous lagoon.

    Life for Yu'uk's family, however, is troubled with growing hardships and Yu’uk may need to leave his village to earn money With failed crops, an elderly father who can no longer work, and the birth of a sister’s gravely ill child, Yu'uk's carefree life in the jungle with José comes under threat. Yu'uk begins to comprehend that leaving his village and his beloved little brother may be his family’s only hope.

    Intimate and immersive – and eschewing ethnography by focusing squarely on unique individuals – La Laguna tells a story of one boy’s difficult choice. Through Yu’uk’s story we feel deeply the waning moments of childhood, the strength of fraternal bonds, the need for identity, and ultimately the search for a place in a world not of your own making.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    Winner, Cinema Eye Honors, Outstanding Achievement in a Nonfiction Short Film
    Honorable Mention—Best Mid-Length Documentary Award, Hot Docs Film Festival
    Best Documentary Short, Woodstock Film Festival
    Best North American Short, Palm Springs International Short Fest
    Jury Honorable Mention, DOXA Documentary Film Festival
    Special Jury Recognition & Youth Jury Award, Aspen FilmFest
    Official Selection, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
    Official Selection, Guanajuato Film Festival
    Official Selection, Camden International Film Festival
    Official Selection, Hamptons International Film Festival


    "The film is both visually compelling and intellectually thought-provoking. As viewers we are immersed in a world that is not only foreign to us, and beautiful, but one that is still experienced as a child experiences it. But, just as we are immersed, so Yu'uk and his people are immersed in a wider national and global context that they cannot see—any more than they can see the spirits of the dead and the gods that inhabit the land—but that they also cannot escape and that in some ways they need." - Anthropology Review Database

    "A luminous, poignant journey." - Aspen FilmFest

    "Intimate, beautifully interesting portrait, this is recommended." - ★★★ from Video Librarian

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