By Beatriz Tellez
Culture Studies graduate Elisa Lopez de Lara, 25, brings the fascinating world of an indigenous family to Dublin through her documentary Rutuima: A New Beginning.
Starring 8-year-old Rutuima, daughter to indigenous artisans, the 30-minute film documents the life, the struggles and the dreams of a Wixaritari family –a group native to the Mexican states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas, and Durango.
As part of her Cultural Studies thesis at La Universidad de Guanajuato, Elisa, now a student at ECM College in Dublin, wanted her project to stand out.
Being realistic, I thought to myself ‘no one will read my thesis, apart from my professors and maybe my parents’. I am very passionate about my projects and the whole point of research is to share it with others, so I decided the best way to gain exposure was through something short and visual
With no previous film experience but an enormous desire to learn and to shed light on the isolated Wixaritari culture, she took a great risk after taking on the role of director and executive producer of the short documentary, with the help of a small crew and a small budget.
After meeting the family back in 2011 through a humanist association in Mexico, and having spent five years getting to know them and their culture, Elisa took on a new quest.
“I made the documentary because I wanted people to see them how I see them.
“I want us to be aware of who we co-exist with, who our neighbors are. There is so much we don’t know about the various groups of indigenous people and the struggles they face, and that’s a real shame”.
The struggles Elisa talks about range from having to migrate from, or often flee, small villages to the big cities, to integrating and overcoming social and language barriers in an already extremely divided country.
But Elisa believes it is up to the younger generation to change that. She makes it clear that while she loves to travel and is enjoying her time in Ireland she feels a certain degree of responsibility to go back to Mexico eventually.
“My objective has always been to travel in order to learn and improve myself. I feel like Mexico really needs us and I think I can contribute and give back
“I know these are difficult times for our country but I don’t believe in escaping from it by moving abroad”
Her faith in the younger generations probably explains why she decided to make 8-year-old Rutuima her protagonist. This motif is explicitly depicted in the film’s opening line: “My name is Rutuima. My name means blooming flower”.
The focus on the children makes it not just an informative piece of work but also a light-hearted and heart-warming film.
The documentary has been screened at various events including the Cinco de Mayo Festival and at Cork’s own Fastnet Film Festival.
Elisa continues to help this family from afar by selling the traditional handicrafts abroad. The beautiful handmade bracelets and necklaces, which can be found here, are sold at all the film’s screenings as well as various events around Dublin, most recently at the Instituto Cervantes Open Day in the city centre.
New to the film industry, Elisa is still working on creating a bigger platform for her work, hoping to make the documentary more easily available to wider audiences soon. For now all updates regarding upcoming screenings of Rutuima: A New Beginning and its trailer can be found on her Facebook page.