New documentary by North Central faculty promotes cross-cultural understanding

Jan 10, 2015

North Central College faculty members Matthew Krystal, associate professor of anthropology, and Hale Ekinci, assistant professor of art, will present their new documentary film, “The Rays of the Sun,” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, in the College’s theatre at Meiley-Swallow Hall.

Krystal and Ekinci collaborated with North Central students of different fields of study, as well as Ajpu Association of Quiacquix, Guatemala—a nongovernmental community development organization that works to address basic problems, like clean drinking water facing the rural poor in Guatemala. In addition, Ajpu Association is a direct trade partner of North Central’s student group Enactus, which sells textiles the group makes. Enactus is consulting with Ajpu about its business operations and efforts to reach wider markets for water filtration systems and other products featured in the film.

“I was inspired by the dedication and energy of the group that’s featured in the film,” Krystal said. The purpose of the documentary is to promote cross-cultural learning and understanding and to challenge widely held stereotypes about the less fortunate living in Guatemala.

Producing the film involved the efforts of many students over the years. Footage was gathered during several D-Term and summer field stays, beginning in 2011. The production involved recording numerous interviews, collecting images to support peoples’ commentary, and gathering additional interviews and video material as needed. The film’s structure was repeatedly revised, though the basic idea of portraying a comprehensive, self-directed project of community development remained.  

“In the process,” said Krystal, “we [the production team] worked to show that the causes of poverty are not found in the culture, identity or outlook of the poor. Larger forces and entrenched obstacles are at work. We hope the film will help us as we collaborate with the group [Ajpu Association] and its efforts.”

The documentary film screening will be hosted by Krystal and Ekinci, as well as North Central’s Office of International Programs and Cultural Events program.