Lee News

Indigenous Film Festival to Present Two October Screenings

By Kendyl Wadley

The Lee University Indigenous Film Festival will continue with two film presentations in October. Oscar-nominated “Embrace the Serpent” will screen on Wednesday, Oct. 9, and “Ixcanul” will be shown on Wednesday, Oct. 23. Both showings will take place in the Screening Room of Lee’s Communication Arts Building at 8 p.m.

“Great international films are not shown in our theaters except at film festivals and art theaters in large cities,” said Dr. Murl Dirksen, professor of anthropology and sociology. “That is why it is a privilege to view these exceptional films. By organizing an indigenous film festival, it is my intent to highlight our appreciation at Lee of global cultures and their amazing artistic skills.”

Embrace the Serpent
Embrace the Serpent

Shot almost entirely in black and white, “Embrace the Serpent” follows German ethnographer Theo and American botanist Evan as they journey through the Colombian Amazonian jungle. Though each journey takes place 30 years apart, both are searching for yakruna, a rare and sacred plant.

The film focuses on the scientists’ encounter, apparent betrayal, and life-affirming friendship between each other and an Amazonian shaman. Inspired by the travel diaries of Theodor Koch-Grunberg and Richard Evans Schultes, “Embrace the Serpent” is dedicated to lost Amazonian cultures.

“Embrace the Serpent” has been nominated for 32 film awards. It won Best Foreign Film for Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards, Best International Film for Ariel Awards, and the Narrative Feature Award at Hamptons International Film Festival. In addition, Ciro Guerra won Best Director at Fenix Film Awards, Premios ACE, and Premios Macondo.


“Ixcanul” is about 17-year-old Maria, a Mayan (Kaqchikel) girl who lives on the slopes of an active volcano in Guatemala. An arranged marriage awaits her, but her suitor must first spend months working in the city. It is a world María knows nothing about, but is forced to grapple with when problems arise.

This film was screened in the main competition section of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the Alfred Bauer Prize. In 2015, “Ixcanul” won Best Film at the Art Film Festival, the Cartagena Film Festival, and the Ghent International Film Festival. It is also the first film produced in the Kaqchikel language of the Mayan family.

Both films are open to the public and free of admission.

For more information on the Indigenous Film Festival, contact Dr. Murl Dirksen.
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