Mexico is one of the most multilingual societies on the planet, with 65 indigenous languages spoken by roughly six million citizens in addition to Spanish. But there is one language that has been historically overlooked despite being spoken by over 100,000 Mexican citizens, a language with a culture and expressivity that is uniquely its own.
The documentary Música Ocular by director José Antonio Cordero takes us into the daily lives, dreams and fantasies of the residents of Piña Palmera: a deaf community on the coast of Oaxaca where Mexican Sign Language is the the only means of communication. The seed of the documentary came about through a chance encounter on a Oaxaca beach, when director Cordero found himself struggling to communicate with a stranger named Erick — one of the members of Piña Palmera and a protagonist in the film. The meeting led Cordero to meditate on the nature of disability and discrimination, and he ultimately decided to explore the topic through the point of view of the disabled in a deeply collaborative process that used cinema as its platform.
As the first documentary shot entirely in Mexican Sign Language, Música Ocular takes advantage of the medium’s power to communicate visually and weaves a surreal meta-reflection on language, cinema and the unique inner worlds that make us human.
Música Ocular will be screening as part of the International Documentary Competition at Guatemala’s Ícaro International Film Festival.