Mexican-Argentine filmmaker Luciana Kaplan (Eufrosina´s Revolution; Rush Hour) is set to return to Toronto’s Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival for the highly-anticipated international premiere of her latest documentary The Spokeswoman (La vocera), a captivating and personal campaign-trail portrait of María de Jesús Patricio, better known as Marichuy, the first indigenous woman to run for president in Mexico’s 2018 election.
After a successful Mexican premiere at last year’s edition of the Guadalajara Film Festival, followed by successful screenings at the FICUNAM and Ambulante film festivals, the documentary will compete at Hot Docs in the ‘Persister’ category highlighting global narratives of women’s resistance and political activism, and will be available to stream to audiences across Canada from April 29 through May 9, 2021. The Spokeswoman will also make a special, sneak-preview stop at the San Francisco International Film Festival, streaming to U.S. audiences from April 9 through April 18, 2021.
For the first time in the country’s history, Mexico’s indigenous communities organized to put forward a candidate in the 2018 presidential election. As a traditional healer and human rights activist from the Nahua nation, the National Indigenous Congress and EZLN (the Zapatista Army of National Liberation) chose Marichuy to be their spokeswoman and run as an independent in order to bring much-needed national attention to issues facing Indigenous nations across the country.
Deeply embedded in Marichuy’s campaign from the start, Kaplan goes up close and personal as she travels across the country to gain support for the election, collect the necessary signatures, and attempts to unify a nation around Indigenous rights, the environment, and the status of women. Along the way, Marichuy connects contemporary indigenous struggles across various territories (Yaqui, Maya and Wixárika), laying a trail of evidence that points to the importance of indigenous political organization and resistance in order to preserve life and ensure lasting dignity.
Although she doesn’t in the end gather enough support to make it on the ballot, Marichuy’s story is one of hope and optimism in the face of a country long plagued by violence, systemic racism, and sexism towards women and indigenous groups alike. At the end of the road, viewers are left with two questions: progress and development for whom, and at whose expense? With The Spokeswoman, Kaplan once again confirms her position as a leading documentary filmmaker at the top of the field, offering audiences a story as heartfelt as it is politically illuminating.