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FILMMAKER SPOTLIGHT: Chaac + Yum

Inspired by the sacred and ancient relationship between Chaac, the Mayan deity of Rain, and Yum, the Mayan deity of corn, Chaac + Yum is a short erotic drama about two queer, Mayan-descended Two Spirits who meet at a queer San Francisco bar. Upon touching and dancing with one another they realize their connection is ancient. It is created in collaboration by artists Snowflake Arizmendi-Calvert (Tzotzil, Yaqui, Rarámuri), Roberto Fatal (mestize Chicana from Rarámuri, Tewa Pueblo, Spanish ancestry), Xav SF (Piru and Tigua heritage from El Paso, Texas) and examines the queer, de-colonial, ancestral rituals in our contemporary QTPOC love, dating, and kink practices.

The film shines as a beautiful and powerful example of Queer, Indigenous storytelling, with voices that are still too rare in cinema, and especially erotic film. We were honored to present Chaac + Yum as part of the 2022 San Francisco PornFilmFestival and now thanks to Frameline Voices, we are fortunate to showcase the film streaming on PinkLabel.TV!

Please enjoy our interview with creators Snowflake Calvert and Roberto Fatale, who tell us more about their passions and visions behind the creation of Chaac + Yum.


Photo: Yum stands amongst the maize in Chaac + Yum.

 

Filmmaker Spotlight: Chaac + Yum are Timeless

PinkLabel.TV: How did Chaac + Yum come about? What is its origin story and the inspiration behind making this film?

Snowflake Calvert: I was told a story as a kid by my Chiapaneco father about the Mayan rain deity and the corn deity, Chaac and Yum Kaax. It is because of the love that Chaac and Yum have for each other that the Mayan people of Chiapas have corn that grows year-round. This powerful relationship between two male deities holds cultural significance for many LGBTQ+ Mayans.

Xav and I created a professional Indigenous contemporary dance project based off of this story, and through it explored themes of Queer sexuality and gender for over 3 years. During this artistic process, I became disheartened by the lack of representation I have in film. So we decided to take action and use our artistry to contribute to Queer Indigenous visibility. It became important for us to show a deeper connection that two Two-Spirit people can create and the level of joy we can experience together.

 

PLTV: The connection is palpable, and the story is so beautiful, and yet these kinds of images are hard to find in film. It is clearly so important to share from our cultural and personal identities to ensure these stories are told. Is that one of your hopes?

Snowflake: I made sure to include many aspects of my gender, sexuality, and culture to tell this Queer contemporary Chiapas Mayan story. Personally, I have rarely seen a film that combines Queer Indigenous people and fetish/kink in a way that isn’t cultural appropriation or fetishizing. My hope is that more Queer Indigenous filmmakers, actors, and writers will continue to carve a place for themselves to share their stories.

 

Photo: Snowflake Calvert speaks on stage with Roberto Fatal and Xav S-F and host Q Wilson at the San Francisco PornFilmFestival

 

PLTV: We were thrilled to screen Chaac + Yum live at the Brava Theater as part of San Francisco PornFilmFestival! Roberto, where else has the film travelled? Have you connected with people who found themselves reflected in the story, or inspired by the art?

Roberto Fatal: For me as a director, this film has had the most significant film run of any film I’ve been part of. We’ve been to about 20 festivals including Frameline, Outfest, Insideout Toronto, Fringe London, and the San Francisco Transgender Film Festival. The reception has been phenomenal, beautiful. It’s beautiful to be seen, understood, to have Indigenous/Two-Spirit visibility.

 

PLTV: We understand it was filmed at The Stud! Can you tell us more about booking such a historic location?

Roberto: The Stud was the space that felt the most obvious and necessary for us to book for this film. It’s a legendary LGBTQAI+ venue and has personal significance for me. My family elder, the only other queer out Chicano person in my family except myself, used to go to The Stud back in the day and when I came out and moved to the Bay, it felt like a right of passage.

Unfortunately/fortunately, we shot a few weeks before the pandemic lockdown and the closure of The Stud. I am both heartbroken and grateful we were able to get such amazing, beautiful footage before it closed down. That was the last time I was in the space. I still think about it fondly and am so sad it’s gone and that younger generations won’t be able to revel in that space. Our footage feels historical now in a really messed up way. I wish it didn’t have to be like that. I wish younger queer and trans folks of color could see our film and go party at The Stud.

 

PLTV: How wonderful to have Frameline Voices support your work as filmmakers. Are you excited about having the film on PinkLabel.TV?

Roberto: Frameline voices was such an exciting opportunity. It was the cherry on top of an amazing film fest run. Another moment of feeling so very seen. It’s wild to have a legendary, important institution like Frameline advocating for you and getting your film to new audiences. It’s honestly a filmmaker’s dream come true.

The same goes for Pinklabel.TV: it’s legendary, unique, important, not just as an archive and curation of cutting-edge porn, but for queer, trans, and BIPOC artists. We are honored to have our film on PinkLabel.TV!

 

PLTV: We’re honored as well! What are you working on next? How can people find out more about your films?

Roberto: My next film Do Digital Curanderas Use Eggs In Their Limpias?, a sci-fi drama starring River Gallo, will be hitting the film fest circuit in 2023. This movie was made as part of my Sundance Film Institute Indigenous Film Lab fellowship and I can’t wait for it to be out. It’s my first narrative drama that I wrote and directed. People can check it out at DigitalCuranderasFilm.com.

If people want to chat or find out about my next films, they can go to RobertoFatal.com.


Thank you both so much for sharing your film and words with us. Watch Chaac + Yum streaming on PinkLabel.TV. Please continue to support Indigenous artists and artists, please continue to bring your cinematic visions to life!

Watch Chaac + Yum

 

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