Hundreds of years after La Malinche played a key role in the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, aiding Hernán Cortés, she continues to spark debate about what she represented then and how she’s understood now. While a recent Mexican series hoped to mine her complexity to tell her tale, an upcoming short animated film hopes to further shed light on her legacy. Directed by Flora Alexandra Rees-Arredondo, Malinchista follows Mari, a Mexican High School girl who goes on a field trip to the Museo de Antropología and finds her voice upon learning the story of La Malinche, in order to stop the racist bullying of her classmate. Drawn in 2D and aesthetically borrowing from the Museo setting it’s representing, Malinchista joins a growing number of projects reclaiming older tales for modern audiences (see also: Victor and Valentinoa show Rees-Arredondo interned for last year).

“My life goal is to create Latinx-positive media to educate and empower others,” Rees-Arredondo told Remezcla. “When I learned that Malinche’s name is a Spanish slur still used today, I was struck by the paradox of a woman who is famously hated for her language ability and yet has no voice in history. By reclaiming the word ‘Malinchista,’ we hope to give Malinche her voice back 500 years later, and empower Latinx women everywhere who feel like they don’t have one.”

A large part of the film features an abstract poem sequence inspired by Chicana writers and existing poems about La Malinche, written by story artists Letianna Castellano, Producer and Head of Story, and Anne Maslen, Story Artist and Character Designer. Brianna Lundgren, Anne, Leti, and Rees-Arredondo have also spent much of the past year creating diverse character designs to better represent Latinx individuals, such as giving Mari arm hair and showing different body types. It’s but one of the many ways the project feels radical down to its minute details.

La Malinchista will be launching a Kickstarter on February 15, 2020 and will be posted online in 2021.