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Culturas y pueblos ancestrales

He Was Born by the Mountains

Tio Yim Review

Por Genesis de los Santos

18 feb 2019


In the mountainous terrains of Oaxaca state there is a voice that can be heard singing in the forest. He sings a song as loud as the howl of the winds. Whistling through the stoned roads of pueblo Guelatao, with each strum of his guitar a new story unfolds.These songs span the artificial borders created by the state, they unite a people under one community.

What does it look like to devote oneself entirely to community? What does it look like to engage in community –communality? This is the song sung by Jaime Martinez Luna, a “philosopher, singer, songwriter, anthropologist… most influential indigenous thinker to date.” Through the eyes of his daughter, director Luna Marán, we learn about a man who is more than just a father, a man who belongs to no one, but to everyone at the very same time.

Through this nostalgic lens, Marán recounts the stories of her fathers presence, but also his absence. She, along with her siblings, and Jaime’s lifelong partner Magdalena Andrade, force Jaime to live outside of abstraction. To think about himself and the world around him in the present with references from his past.

After 15 years of living in what Magdelena terms a “labyrinth”, sucked in by alcoholism, playing the character of a drunkard with a cane, Jaime was unable to completely live out the various identities pinned on him by his community. It is in his present form that we meet Jaime, no longer able to sing with the same potence, but still advocating for the indigenous communities, the natural world, and this idea of living in communality. In Jaime’s world individuality is not present, for it can only “destroy communality.”

Through this telling lens the whole family makes an appearance, speaking not only of the organizations that Jaime created, such as the communal radio station, XEGLO “La Voz de la Sierra”, in the 80s, but also of his role as a partner, parent, and political figure.

Closing this biographical homage to a grand man, the viewer sees Jaime surrounded by nature, floating in the serene waters of the Pacific. Images of nature’s wonders enrapture us, a small mushroom in the shrub, a spider spinning its web, and the breeze swinging the branches of the forest that Jaime created. The ending song,

He was born by the mountains. Raised by the sun. Like the water from the rivers he wandered in faraway lands.”

Truly a telling story of a man’s connection with the earth, music, and his community.


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