Private Project


"Kuxlejal" means "Life" in the Tsotsil language, and Life and how to feel alive in order not to die, is the theme of this documentary that for the first time makes the high suicide rate among the youth of native people visible and reflects the feelings and conflicts leading to the thought that "life is worth nothing". The center of the film is the search for their own identity between their ancestral roots and the desire and need to be part of the globalized modernity. Since the film aims to start a dialog and to create a bridge of empathy between generations and cultures, the primary motivation is to save their lives.

  • Elke Franke
    "The Tree" (producer)
  • Humberto Gómez Pérez
    “Jvabajom” (Musician), “jVobtik“ (Our music), “Vayijeletik” (Protective animals), “Sat Yelov Jlumal” (Faces of my people)
  • Juan Antonio Méndez Rodríguez
    Director of Photography
    “Mamá” (Mom), “Jvabajom” (Musician), “jVobtik“ (Our music), “El Nail”, “Don de Ser” (Gift of being), “El lugar más grande” (The biggest place), “Negra” (Black) , “El Auténtico de La Costa” (The Authentic of the Coast), “Machas”, "Jun O'ontonal" (That the heart is not broken), "Sin el disfraz" (Without disguise) , K’in Paxion”
  • María Laura “Ari” Hernández
    Key Cast
  • Erik González Pérez
    Key Cast
  • José Manuel Ruíz Hernández
    Key Cast
  • Marcos Gómez Hernández
    Key Cast
  • Francisco Javier “Javi” Hernández
    Key Cast
  • Manuel de Jesús “Chuy” López Díaz
    Key Cast
  • María Isabel “Paris” Gonzales Díaz
    Key Cast
  • Gilberto “Conejo” Díaz Gómez
    Key Cast
  • Fabián “Chato” Hernández López
    Key Cast
  • Víctor “Euro” Sánchez Hernández
    Key Cast
  • Maximiliano “Max” Gonzales Díaz
    Key Cast
  • Fabián “Fa-c” Ernesto Ruíz Hernández
    Key Cast
  • Verónica “B-ro” Hernández Díaz
    Key Cast
  • Carlos “Car” Díaz Hernández
    Key Cast
  • Juan “Primo” Hernández Gómez
    Key Cast
  • Martha Isabel “Chave” Hernández
    Key Cast
  • Carlos Alejandro González +
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Mental Health, Native people, Youth, Suicid, Teenagers, Teens, Latinoamerica, Tsotsil, Mexico, Chiapas, HipHop
  • Runtime:
    40 minutes 34 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 5, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Other, Spanish
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Prix Jeunesse Germany 2020 (TV version)
    June 5, 2020
    Winner UNESCO Award
  • Festival Kolibri
    La Paz
    Bolivia, Plurinational State of
    November 5, 2020
    Winner Best documentary
  • Festival Guagua Cine

    August 21, 2021
    Winner Best documentary
  • Pantalla de Cristal
    Mexico City
    November 10, 2020
    Winner Testimonial Value Prize "Guillermo G. Camarona Becerra"
  • Festival Internacional de Cine de Morelia
    October 29, 2020
    Mexican Premiare
    Official Selection
  • Japan Prize
    Winner Best Pitch (Hoso Bunka Foundation Prize )
Distribution Information
  • Vientos Culturales A.C.
    Country: Mexico
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Elke Franke

Elke Franke is German by birth and Mexican at heart. She studied psychology, psychodrama and Gestalt in her home country, a career that was interrupted when she moved to Mexico. She is cofounder of the NGO Vientos Culturales (Cultural Winds). Together with her team, Elke Franke has built up the first Mexican News for Kids program "Winds!, flying news". Elke Franke promotes children’s rights, inclusion, and freedom of expression and works in vulnerable communities under adverse conditions. “Kuxlejal” (Life) is her first documentary film.

“Kuxlejal” – “Life” (DOCUMENTARY) 2020 - Director
“El Árbol” – “The tree” (SHORTFILM) 2012 – Producer

Children's Television:
“Pintando Estrellas, un viaje por el mundo del arte” – “Painting Stars, a journey through the world of art” (DOCUMENTARY SERIES) 2020 (30x7min) – Producer/ Director
“¡Vientos!, noticias que vuelan” - “Winds !, flying news” (NEWS FOR KIDS) 2017 until now (176x15min) – Producer/ Director
“La nueva ERA de los niños” - “The new era of children” (NON FICTION) 2014-2015 (16x25min) - Producer
“La Vaca Napux” – “The cow Napux” (NON FICTION) 2013-2014 (16x25min) - Producer
“Cuentos Parachicos y Chiapanecas” – “"Fairy tales for Chiapanecas” (FICTION) 2012 (6x12min) - Producer
“Viva la Pelota” - "Long live the Ball" 2008-2012 (FICTION) (190x40min) – Producer

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

In 2017 we did a reportage for our newscast in Larráinzar — one of the poorest indigenous municipalities in Chiapas, a state in southern Mexico. We went there because the increasing number of suicides in this area caught our attention. Our producer, Humberto Gomez, was born in Larráinzar and speaks Tsotsil, the local native language. He led us to the story of his cousin Alfredo, who tried to commit suicide but was helped in time. Convincing us of the urgency, we started to investigate on this issue. Our motivation increased when we found out that Alfredo was killed by a drugged young man.
The accelerated modernization has created a severe gap of communication between generations. The transmission of ancient knowledge and traditions has been widely interrupted. This has provoked an identity crisis within the younger generation; they are losing their roots and are not ready to face the competitive and discriminating world outside of their community.
In addition, due to shame and traditional beliefs, many people try to conceal suicides within their families. This behavior makes the problem invisible and nobody is actively trying to change the situation.
In 2018 we presented our project to the International Contest for Educational Media, the “Japan Prize” in Tokyo. By being selected as the best proposal we had the opportunity to connect with the young people of Larrainzar and to tell their story.
Our general objective is that suicide has to be recognized as a severe problem in the indigenous area, as well as to foster resilience among young people.
Ultimately, we want to generate impact on community level, so that parents and authorities listen to and understand the reality of young people, take their needs into account. And of course we aim to save lives, because we believe in the power of media for change.