Directed by Bruce “Pacho” Lane
Cinematography by Pedro Aragón and Miguel Baez. Jr.
Every year in late March there is an amazing festival in central Veracruz state near the ancient pre-hispanic ruins of El Tajin, once the ancient capital of the Totonac indians. The festival site is also close to the town of Papantla, center of vanilla production, not far from the gulf coast, and famous for the Totonac Volador ritual.
During the five-day festival, Cumbre Tajin, world-class music groups perform in the 2000 seat auditorium. Most of the 25,000 or so tourists come for the music, but also enjoy the hundreds of other non-stop events on the 100 hectare (247 acre) festival grounds – notably indigenous ritual, dance, and music groups from Mexico and Central America.
The film starts in Huehuetla, a Totonac community in the coastal mountain range between Veracruz and Puebla states. Volador captain Salvador García trains a group of young men in the ritual, and explains its meaning. In order to finance their journey, Salvador and his family harvest sugar cane, grind it with a horse-drawn press, and sell the raw sugar in the Sunday market.
Salvador and his group travel to the festival, stay in tents on the grounds, visit the sights, and perform the Volador ritual for an admiring throng. The organizer of the festival, Salomón Bazbaz, explains the commitment of the festival to promoting the traditions and culture of Mexican Indians. The Voladors visit the amazing variety of events on the festival grounds and the light show at the ruins of El Tajin. The film concludes with a concert in the huge festival auditorium.
Watch CUMBRE TAJIN (English subtitles)
Watch CUMBRE TAJIN (Versión español)