La Festividad de los Muertos – Lanii Xtee Tugul

Teotitlán del Valle

In 2012, for our second individual Day of the Dead Project, working in collaboration with the Museum Committee of the "Balaa Xtee Guech Gulal" Community Museum, we documented the traditional celebration of Day of the Dead in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico. We focused on the importance placed on family and extended family relations during the celebrations in this Zapotec community. These celebrations include traditional family based observances and altars, and then continue in a community-wide ritual remembrance in the cemetery.

The first phase of the Project introduced a new collaborative element to our process in an effort to encourage the documentation, preservation and promotion of these cultural traditions by members of the local community. We had two apprentices, chosen by the Museum Committee, to assist in the documentary work. Besides offering them practical training in production work, we advised them on the concepts involved in the documenting of cultural and ethnographic events. We are also sharing important resources for them to continue pursuing their interests in this area. This phase culminated in our production of a documentary of Teotitlán del Valle’s Day of the Dead celebrations, “La Festividad de los Muertos / Lanii Xtee Tugul”.

In the second phase of the Project, we worked in collaboration with the Museum Committee to improve and expand the permanent Day of the Dead exhibit in the Community Museum. We granted the Community Museum rights of reproduction and sale of the documentary, with all the proceeds from the sales of the documentary to be dedicated to the maintenance and improvement of the Museum. In May of 2013, in a community event, the Museum’s new Day of the Dead Exhibit was inaugurated and we celebrated the world premiere of our documentary, to a large and enthusiastic audience, in the Civic Plaza of Teotitlán.

In the third phase of the Project, we are presenting the results of the Project to a wider audience, with public presentations in conjunction with screenings of the documentary planned for various locations, including Santa Fe and Albuquerque in New Mexico. We are also submitting the documentary to national and international film festivals.

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