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“YOCHI”, winner of Best Short Film at Belize Int’l Film Festival, Coming To Las Cruces

ilana lapid

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico- Yochi, an award-winning short film, will be screened at the Rio Grande Theater in downtown Las Cruces, Tuesday, February 7th at 6:30 p.m.  It is free and open to the public.

Yochi, written and directed by NMSU professor and filmmaker Ilana Lapid, was filmed in Belize, Central America last year.  The film won Best Short Film at the Belize International Film Festival in November. 

The film is almost ready to submit to film festivals around the world. “We need $1,500 for the professional sound design in Los Angeles next month,” Lapid said. “We are in the final stretch to complete the film.” Lapid said.         


Yochi has been receiving noteworthy recognition, most recently from renowned film director Roland Joffe (The Mission) in a tweet about Robert Dugan's cinematography, calling it "Beautifully shot." 

Yochi is a story of a 9-year-old selectively mute Mayan boy who guards a nest of endangered Yellow-Headed Parrots in Belize’s pine savannah. When his beloved older brother, Itza, returns from the city, Yochi learns that he’s in debt and has turned to poaching – setting the brothers on a collision course. 

“This film is a story about connection and finding your voice” said Lapid. It is a film with a strong conservation message. Global populations of endangered Yellow-Headed Parrots have declined over 90% since the 1970s, due to poaching and deforestation.  The filmmakers’ intention is for Yochi to raise awareness and encourage dialogue about poaching and conservation. 

Yochi, a US-Belizean co-production, was filmed in May, 2016 in western Belize with a crew made of Belizean filmmakers as well as talented students from New Mexico State University. The cast is made up entirely of Belizean non-actors from villages in Cayo district in western Belize. The film is in four languages: Yucatec Mayan, Creole, English, and Spanish.


Written, directed and produced by Lapid, Yochi is produced by Kristi Drexler and Daniel Velazquez, and executive produced by Craig Holden. Co-produced by YoungStarr Entertainment. NMSU crew: Robert Dugan (Cinematographer), Joaquin Chavana (1st AC/Gaffer), AJ Johnson (1st Assistant Director), Nicholas Duron (Production Sound Recordist), Jennifer Garcia (Co-Producer), Whitney Guaderrama (Co-Producer), Aaron Cedillo (Associate Producer), and David Morales (Editor).

Ilana Lapid is a filmmaker and professor at the Creative Media Institute of New Mexico State University. She has directed multiple award-winning short films, including Red Mesa, which won Best Short at the LA Latino International Film Festival. Her short La Catrina was selected for the 2016 Women in Film and Television International Showcase.

Official Website: www.yochifilm.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YochiFilm

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/yochifilm/yochi-film-post-production

Donation (tax-deductible): http://epcf.org/