When Parasite won Best Picture at the 92nd Academy Awards, becoming the first ever non-English language film to ever do so, you could tell that Korean director Bong Joon Ho had many fans in Hollywood. During his speeches he made clear he was just as big a fan of directors like Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese. But since winning three Oscars in one night, the cinephile filmmaker he has also established himself as a champion of up-and-coming talent. For the latest edition of Sight & Sound magazine, which he guest edited, Bong compiled a list of 20 emerging directors whose work will be pivotal in the coming decade.
The list is necessarily a global affair, with filmmakers hailing from France, Australia, Italy, Korea and Japan among others. Representing Latin America on the list is Jayro Bustamante. His first project was 2015’s Ixcanul, the first film produced in the Kaqchikel language of the Mayan family. It singlehandedly put Guatemala’s still nascent film industry on the map. Its story about a young girl named Maria (played by Maria Mercedes Coroy) who lives on the slopes of a volcano and grapples with an unwanted pregnancy earned raves. It became the country’s first ever submission for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars, though it was not nominated.
Bustamante’s follow-up films have further established him as a talent to watch — no doubt what Bong identified when putting him on a list alongside the likes of Get Out‘s Jordan Peele, The Babadook‘s Jennifer Kent and Midsommar‘s Ari Aster. In Temblores (Tremors), he explored the harrowing horrors of gay conversion therapy within a devout Catholic family, while in La Llorona (The Weeping Woman), he turned his country’s colonial history into a ghost story about one of Latin America’s most enduring folk tales.
Key to his three films is a curiosity about Guatemala’s past and present, proof that while his projects play into well-worn tropes and genres, he’s eager to look at them anew. As Bong writes in his piece, his list “inevitably concerns the future of cinema” and it’s encouraging to see such a vital Central American filmmaker be rightly considered as leading the charge of what movies can and will do in the coming decades.