North Central College - Naperville, IL

April 16 screening of “Con los Brazos Abiertos” documentary

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North Central students at ceramics shop in Totonicapn, Guatemala
North Central College students at B’ulux sisters ceramics shop in Totonicapn, Guatemala

North Central College faculty and students have collaborated to create a documentary, titled “Con los Brazos Abiertos,” about sustainable tourism in Guatemala. A free screening will be shown to the campus community at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, in Heininger Auditorium at the Larrance Academic Center.

“The film project,” says Matthew Krystal, associate professor of political science, sociology and anthropology, “is primarily about professional development and faculty-student collaboration in the production of films on anthropological and economic topics.”

In addition to Krystal, faculty involved in the project include Jean Clifton, associate professor of management, and Gerald Thalmann, associate professor of accounting.

Nearly a dozen students participated as camera operators, interviewers, transcribers and translators and traveled to Guatemala to conduct research for the project. The film was edited by alumnus Scott Loberger ’06, a broadcast communication major.

“Con los Brazos Abiertos” considers La Aventura Maya K’iche’, a sustainable community tourism project around the time of its 25th anniversary, and is based in the K’iche’ Maya community of San Miguel Totonicapán, Guatemala.

Involving about 25 families, the project attempts to improve local livelihoods by providing various tourism services independent of the large enterprises that dominate tourism in Guatemala. Based on interviews with participants in the project, the film conveys an indigenous perspective on globalized tourism and the ways people engage the global economy on their own terms.

“The film also hopes to fill a void in the scholarly and documentary examination of tourism,” says Krystal. “The topics of how people use tourism to improve their livelihoods and indigenous perspectives on the issue aren’t often considered in documentaries. We hope this film will be useful to classroom teachers in anthropology, Latin American studies, international business and business.”

“Con los Brazos Abiertos” has been in the works for a few years. Portions of the film have been presented at Midwest Mesoamericanist Meetings and feedback from attending historians, archaeologists and cultural anthropologists have enhanced the final cut.

04-15-2013