Gods and Kings

At a festival in a sleepy Guatemalan mountain town, traditional dances are disrupted by an eerie spectacle where horror movie monsters dance beside Maya gods and Cold War dictators.

photo: Rachel Lears



Directed and Edited by: Robin Blotnick
Produced by: Rachel Lears & Elyse Neiman
Cinematographers: Elyse Neiman & Carl Wooley
Original Music by: Ryan Blotnick
Narrators: Anaïs Alexandra Tekarian & Sandra Rozental
Written by: Robin Blotnick & Rachel Lears
Associate Producer: Josh Weiss
Consultants: Rhonda Taube, Maury Hutcheson & Garrett Cook
Starring: The Devotional Dancers of Momostenango

Everything you see in the movies will sometimes happen in real life here.
— Pedro Martinez Ixcoy, Traditional Dancer

In the muddy market square of Momostenango, Guatemala, where shamans burn offerings in the shadow of the Catholic church, prehispanic gods dance beside horror movie monsters and the dictators from the dark days of the Cold War. Unlike the folkloric performances long studied by anthropologists, the new Disfraz dance won’t show up on any postcard. In some villages, it’s even been banned for the way it frightens tourists. So how did these fiberglass masks of Xena: Warrior Princess come to be blessed in the smoke of Maya altars?

Presenting a striking case never before documented on film, Gods and Kings illuminates the way creations of mass culture take on new meanings as they travel around the world. In a town where a Hollywood B-movie villain is a real evil spirit, stories can't be taken lightly—and it always matters who’s telling them.


  • Opening Night Film, ETHNOCINECA (Austria, 2014)
  • First Place, Intangible Culture Film Prize, RAI Festival of Ethnographic Film (Edinburgh, UK, 2013)
  • Official Selection: International Intangible Heritage Film Festival (Korea 2014), University of British Columbia Ethnographic Film Festival (Canada, 2014), Cine Las Americas (USA, 2014), 11th World Film Festival (Estonia, 2014), FIFEQ: Ethnographic Film Festival of Quebec (Canada, 2014), Miradasdoc (Spain, 2012) Morelia International Film Festival (Mexico, 2012)

Film Details

Release Date: Fall 2012
Runtime: 87 min.
In Spanish and English (with multiple subtitle options)

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DVDs for personal and educational use and institutional streaming licenses are available from our educational distributor DER Documentary

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