via the New York Times:
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: December 5, 2006
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Scenes of enslaved Maya Indians building temples for a violent, decadent culture in Mel Gibson's new film ''Apocalypto'' may ring true for many of today's Mayas, who earn meager wages in construction camps, building huge tourist resorts on land they once owned.
Some Mayas are excited at the prospect of the first feature film made in their native tongue, Yucatec Maya. But others among the 800,000 surviving Mayans are worried that Gibson's hyper-violent, apocalyptic film could be just the latest misreading of their culture by outsiders.
''There has been a lot of concern among Mayan groups from Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, because we don't know what his treatment or take on this is going to be,'' said Amadeo Cool May of the Indian defense group ''Mayaon,'' or ''We are Maya.''
''This could be an attempt to merchandize or sell the image of a culture, or its people, that often differs from what that people needs, or wants,'' Cool May said.
Gibson employed Mayas, most of whom live on Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, in the filming of the movie, and says he wants to make the Mayan language ''cool'' again, and encourage young people ''to speak it with pride.''
The film has been screened for some U.S. Indians, who praised the use of Indian actors. The Mayas haven't seen it yet, but like Indians north of the border, they have seen others co-opt their culture, as in high-class Caribbean resorts like the Maya Coast and the Maya Riviera. [full article]
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