This Guatemalan Coming-of-Age Story Featuring a Deaf Protagonist Is Now on Netflix

Lead Photo: 'Septiembre, un llanto en silencio' still courtesy of Miami Film Festival.
'Septiembre, un llanto en silencio' still courtesy of Miami Film Festival.
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In 2015, Guatemalan director Kenneth Müller won the Premio Netflix for his first feature, a thriller titled 12 Segundos.  The movie was added to the streaming service for global distribution, making Muller the first Guatemalan filmmaker to release a film internationally with such ample reach in nearly 60 territories. Now, for his follow-up, Müller returns with a more personal story.

Septiembre, un llanto en silencio is a drama inspired by the struggles faced by Müller’s brother Fausto after a guerrilla terrorist bombing left him permanently deaf. “What happened to my brother really affected me, because my first language was sign language and not Spanish. With this movie I wanted to exorcise something I was carrying from seeing my brother suffer all these years,” the filmmaker explained.

For the fictionalized version of the story, Müller changed the gender of the protagonist and centered his narrative on a young deaf girl named Theresa (played by non-deaf actress Constanza Andrade). Theresa wishes to have a fulfilling life, but is constantly ostracized by those around her. Since Andrade isn’t hard of hearing in real life, Müller took the actress to meet his brother and to spend time with the deaf community of Guatemala. The experience helped her understand what it means to live in a country that doesn’t provide opportunities for people with disabilities.

“I named the film Un llanto en silencio (A silent cry) because I thought the image of a deaf person screaming and crying was very powerful, as we see in the film. If I cry, I can hear myself. But for a deaf person, no matter how hard they cry they can’t hear themselves or their pain,” he noted. With his film, Müller hopes to not only create awareness and empathy for those who deal with hearing loss, but to give a face to the victims of the armed conflict in Guatemala’s recent past.

The movie was created with a team from across Latin America, both in front of and behind the camera – including Argentine actor Saúl Lizaso, known for his work in countless Mexican telenovelas, in the role of Theresa’s father Josué.  Released in Guatemalan cinemas last year with substantial success, Septiembre, un llanto en silencio had its North American premiere last month at the Miami Film Festival, where Müller was in attendance. It’s now available to stream on Netflix around the world.

Capitalizing on his prolific abilities, the director already has three upcoming gigs in development: one with a famed Mexican actress, a horror tale set in Peru, and another historical piece in war-torn Guatemala – so keep an eye out for his next projects.

This interview was conducted in Spanish and translated by the author for Remezcla.