Indigenous Mexican actress Yalitza Aparicio hit it big with her first role in Roma and now, three years later, she’s starring in her second feature film. Aparicio is working on Presences (Presencias), a horror film co-starring Damián Alcázar and directed by Mexican filmmaker Luis Mandoki, Mexican newspaper El Universal reported. According to the outlet: “The film tells the story of a man who loses his wife and goes to seclude himself in a cabin in the woods, where strange things happen.”
In photos obtained by El Universal, you can see the cast and crew wearing face masks and being socially distant. They’re filming in Tlalpujahua, Michoacán in central Mexico for the next month or so which is about 400 miles north of Oaxaca, Aparicio’s hometown. The publication reports that Tlalpujahua had a thriving gold mining industry until a landslide in 1937 destroyed the mines. They report that according to local lore, the souls of the deceased miners haunt the forest which explains why they likely chose the location.
Aparicio’s return to the big screen is no doubt exciting considering Roma led her to become the first Indigenous actress to be nominated for an Academy Award. She was also the first Mexican woman in 17 years to be nominated following Salma Hayek’s 2002 nomination for Frida. The recognition she received gave her a platform to inform and educate people on her Indigenous culture and shine a spotlight on her homeland. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named Aparicio its goodwill ambassador for indigenous peoples in 2019.
She shared that she felt “proud to be an indigenous woman” and hopes “to go hand in hand with UNESCO in the best way, to be able to support these indigenous communities.” Adding, “As my grandparents used to say: ‘You have to take care of the land because you eat it’. So hopefully we learn this part.”
She’s also working with Cine Too to help provide access to the cinema to marginalized communities, IndieWire reported. Cine Too is a one-screen, 75-seat cinema in Guelatao de Juárez, Oaxaca that serves as an educational center for the next generation of Indigenous filmmakers.
“Wherever I go, I’ll always be proudly representing our Indigenous communities,” the actress told IndieWire. “I’m conscious that every step I take may open doors for someone else and at the same time it’s an opportunity for society to realize we are part of it and that we are here.”