VLAFF: Eufrosina’s Revolution documents a woman’s quest for equality in Oaxaca
In one scene of the documentary Eufrosina’s Revolution, the main subject of the film explains the traditional life of many women in the Oaxacan community of Santa Maria Quiegolani.
“You never know when someone will come for you and ask for you and you have to get married,” Eufrosina Cruz Mendoza tells the filmmakers, noting that one of her sisters got married when she was 12, and had the first of nine children at 13.
But Cruz Mendoza wanted a different path, and the film depicts her determination to achieve a better future for not only herself, but for the people in the isolated, indigenous community.
When she ran for mayor of her community in 2007, the ballots in favour of her leadership were annulled because women were not on the voters registration list, and could not be mayor under the community’s bylaws.
Cruz Mendoza set out to make a difference in the town, setting up income-generating projects for women so they could afford to buy enough food for their children, and advocating for gender equality and better funding for education.
Her efforts are depicted amid beautiful cinematography of the spectacular Sierra Sur region, and typical life scenes in the mountain village, such as women making tortillas.
Cruz Mendoza’s efforts eventually get noticed by politicians outside the community, and as the woman weighs the pros and cons of entering the political world herself, she tells the filmmakers that her commitment is not about political allegiances, but about “fighting for the basics" for the people in her region.
“Both the right and the left have the obligation to remedy those deficiencies, regardless of the party differences between them,” she says.
Throughout her journey from activist to the Oaxaca congress, Cruz Mendoza appears to remain firmly connected to grassroots work in the community, and to cultural traditions, such as building a Day of the Dead altar out of flowers and fruit with her parents
Parts of this journey may at times be difficult for viewers unfamiliar with the political context of the region to follow. But through the film, director Luciana Kaplan succeeds in delivering a stirring portrayal of the inspiring and remarkable story of Cruz Mendoza's quest for equality.
Eufrosina’s Revolution screens as part of the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival on Saturday (August 31) at 3 p.m. at The Cinematheque.