On Tuesday (Jan. 26), the National Board of Review (NBR) named Guatemalan filmmaker Jayro Bustamante’s political horror-thriller La Llorona the Best Foreign Language Film of 2020.
In Bustamante’s retelling of the folktale, the story centers on a retired Guatemalan dictator whose guilty verdict is overturned for the genocide of the country’s Indigenous Mayan people during the early 1980s. When a new servant (María Mercedes Coroy) comes to work for the dictator and his family, she becomes the catalyst for him to face the sins of his past.
Remezcla also listed La Llorona as one of 2020’s Best Latine and Latin American films, saying that Bustamante “pumped new life into the mythology by supporting it with real-life atrocities.”
The winner of the Best Foreign Language Film with the NBR has gone on to earn an Academy Award nomination seven times in the last decade, winning five of those times. The last time was in 2019 when Parasite won the NBR award and the Oscar.
If La Llorona picks up an Oscar nomination this year, it will be the first one in the history of Guatemalan cinema. Besides La Llorona, Guatemala has only submitted two films for Oscar consideration, 1994’s The Silence of Neto and 2015’s Ixcanul, which was also directed by Bustamante and starred La Llorona actress María Mercedes Coroy.