Each week in July, Weekend Edition is celebrating exceptional student filmmakers and their projects. We found short films released in the past year that show a unique perspective on events in the news from filmmakers across the country.
Last updated on July 4, 2021. This page will be updated each week with new selections.
Chuj Boys of Summer
Listen: Director Max Walker-Silverman On ‘Chuj Boys of Summer’
The 17-minute film follows a teen migrant named Yakin. He is from Guatemala and only speaks Chuj (pronounced “chew”) — the language of his Indigenous people. Gradually, we see him settle into life in Telluride, a small town in Colorado.
Director Max Walker-Silverman says it’s a coming-of-age story, told through the perspective of immigrants who have to be family breadwinners while still going through adolescence.
It uses nonprofessional actors, many of whom are Indigenous Guatemalans who migrated to the U.S. and now live in Telluride.
Walker-Silverman co-wrote the movie with his friend Marcos Ordoñez Ixwalanhkej Mendoza, who is Chuj and originally from Guatemala.
“For some movies, there’s a really clear line between writing and casting and directing,” Walker-Silverman says. “That’s really not the case here, because writing was me and my co-writer sitting down and telling stories, details, things that he cared about, that they cared about, that they would want to be in this film.”
The actors would discuss the scenes before shooting, sometimes making changes. “That’s the way to give control and to give agency to the people who it’s really about,” he says. “So it makes everyone involved entirely a writer, a director themselves.”
This page was originally published on July 4, 2021.
Andrew Craig created and produced the Weekend Edition Student Film Showcase. Ed McNulty edited the audio interviews. James Doubek produced for the web.