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Yib - Roots (film)

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Yib - Roots
Directed byOzan Mermer
Produced byHFF München, CCC Mexico, Ozan Mermer
Written byOzan Mermer
CinematographyJ. Daniel Zúñiga
Edited byEsperanza Rivera Vollmer
Release date
Running time
1h 5min
CountryMexico, Germany
LanguageSpanish, Chuj

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Yib is a 2019 Mexican-German documentary film directed by Ozan Mermer. It was selected to be screened in the panorama section of the 41st Cairo International Film Festival.


In the Maya autonomous region on the border between Mexico and Guatemala, two young girls with indigenous roots try to give their lives a new direction through music.

Tackling the relationship between identity and borders in the modern world. This world, with all its authoritarian regimes, has not been able to force humans to separate from their roots nor let the borders divide them. The film closely follows the features of the indigenous people of this remote town. Without a voiceover, the camera accompanies two girls from the Mexican side and how they react with girls from the other side of the border.


Yib is the first movie to be shot about the chuj culture. The movie was filmed in La Trinitaria, Chiapas, Mexico an autonomous area where civil authorities govern. Today a hard border divides the Chuj area that was once united in two halves, one in Guatemala and one in Mexico. The music program “Movimiento Nacional de Agrupaciones Musicales Comunitarias” created two choirs, one on each side of the border. One in Tziscao, Mexico and another in Guaxacaná (Guatemala).

The movie follows Aleida and Alejandra, two inseparable cousins, who are eleven years old and sing in the choir of Tziscao. While Aleida loves to sing the chuj songs and wants to learn the language of her ancestors, Alejandra has to leave the choir for family reasons.

Little by little one begins to notice that the paths of the two inseparable girls lead by different routes. Both are still in time to decide what role their roots play in the development of their future. They will end up singing with the choir in Guaxacaná. The arduous and dangerous trip to Guaxacaná, a place where the Chuj culture is not past but also present, implies a response to its existential conflict, its position against the origin, the future and its own identity.


Yib premiered at the 2019 Cairo International Film Festival and was shown worldwide in many international film festivals. In 2020, the film won Best Feature at the Cinalfama International Film Awards in Portugal. Yib premiered on Mexican TV (Canal 22) in 2021 with a total of 771,000 views.

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