Telenovelas are nothing new in Latin America. However, “Baktún” is something special all on its own— it’s a Mayan telenovela.
This summer we’re going to see the premiere of the first television series that will star indigenous Mayans in Southeast Mexico speaking in only their native tongue.
The Mayan telenovela, which will air in Latin America, will have Spanish subtitles. The “Baktún” project was produced and directed by Bruno Carcamo, a documentary filmmaker working with Mayan communities.
The series is about a Mayan Indian named Hilario who moved to the U.S. and returns to tackle a land-grant project for a private company, describes Sin Embargo.
Mayan telenovela preserves and makes history
Like most soap operas, the series centers itself around romantic drama. The difference with “Baktún” is the Mayan culture is its backdrop.
The filmmaker’s aim was to create a show that was entertaining enough to captivate an audience, while educating them about the Mayan culture and preserving their indigenous language.
There are over 750,000 Mayan speakers in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, but as the culture ages many fear that the language will go extinct.
“If you lose a language, you’re not only losing those words,” Carcamo told Sin Embargo.” “You are losing an entire peoples, and this could happen with the Mayan people of the Yucatan.”
Mexico, one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world, offers a theoretical protection for indigenous culture. However, that has not stopped the vast majority of their languages from being in danger of disappearing.
The Maya people are one of the largest linguistic groups in the country, according to Programa de Revitalizacion de las Lenguas.
The Mayan telenovela was presented at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, where Carcamo explained that the inspiration for the series — and for the search and rescue of the Mayan language — is based on the premise that “the indigenous languages do not die, those who disappear are the speakers .”
According to Sin Embargo, the 30-episode drama will be made available on YouTube and on mobile phones. And you thought “Devious Maids” was the only groundbreaking new soap opera this summer.