Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rolando Klein, Chac: Dios de la Lluvia


  1. Amalia Cordova: Would you tell us your full name and where you are from?

    Rolando Klein: My name is Rolando Klein and I was born in Santiago, Chile—I'm a U.S. citizen now. I came to the States in 1968. I married a U.S. citizen and then I stayed on. I have a big family that grew up here, so I became an American. Actually I was always an American. (Laugh) In South America we also think of ourselves as Americans.
    AC: I feel like [Chac] is something that came before its time, in a way. Because there are people speaking different languages…how did you manage a fluid communication through those language barriers?….Did you hire interpreters? The crew spoke Spanish?

    RK: The crew spoke Spanish.

    AC: Your actors spoke Tzeltal?

    RK: Yes. First, I had my right hand man, Alonso Mendez Ton, the village president, who plays the role of Cacique in the film. He was bilingual, he spoke perfect Spanish. I, of course, did not speak Tzeltal at all, so he helped me translate, all the time at my side. The dialogue in the film, the script itself, we got to review it so many times I knew it really. I knew what they were saying; I knew the words, at least the words in the movie pretty much.

    And then the other main actor, who we called the Diviner in the story, came from Yucatan and he spoke what today they call Mayan. The Mayan [language] of Yucatan has the same Mayan roots as that from the Chiapas highlands [but] they could not even understand each other. There were some common roots, and some words were the same, like ik would be "sun," for example, in both languages. But they could not understand each other.

    And what I really find most fascinating, is this third tribe [in the film], the Lacandon Indians living in the Lacandon jungle. If you look in the map, you'll see that the Lacandones live just 50 miles from Tenejapa, but the people of Tenejapa had never set foot in that jungle. They were up in the highlands, the jungle was down below, and they had never crossed paths with each other.

    The Lacandones spoke a language they called Caribe. And the fascinating thing is that the Lacandones and the "Diviner" from Yucatan could communicate. Theirs wasn't the same language but it was similar enough that they could understand each other. And those people lived a thousand miles from each other….So the three languages were intermingled in the story and, of course, through the subtitles we don't even know that.