Atempa, Dreams by the River

(Atempa, sueños a la orilla del rio)
Edson J. Caballero Trujillo | Documentary

2013 | 85 minutes | Mexico

Tino considers herself neither male nor female, but rather a “muxe,” a third gender that has been integrated into Zapotec culture.


Tino dreams of becoming a “Muxe Queen”. Though born into a male body, as Tino enters adolescence, she begins to dress as a woman and embrace her femininity, all while struggling to resolve a difficult childhood and overcome poverty. Tino considers herself neither male nor female, but rather a “muxe”, a third gender that has been integrated into Zapotec culture.

A documentary that films for the first time a muxe child in its growth stage, this film is a portrait of San Blas Atempa, a town that heroically defended itself against the French invasion of Mexico. The region is known for the strength of its women. This “magical town”, lost in the wild heel of Mexico, seeks a free and diverse society dominated by femininity.

An intimate journey into the heart of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Atempa, Dreams by the River raises important questions about the conflation of gender and sexual orientation and the influence of culture on gender identity.

Atempa has been supported by National Foundation for Arts and Culture.


"A somewhat dream-like reverie on gender in contemporary Mexico explores the muxe gender role through the aspirations and experiences of one young male, set against the political climate of the region. Suitable for college courses in cultural anthropology, anthropology of sex/gender, and Mexican/Latin American studies, as well as general audiences." — Jack David Eller, Anthropology Review Database

"A forthcoming breath of fresh air in the national [Mexican] audiovisual panorama." — El Jolgorio

"More than a documentary about muxes, Atempa, Dreams by the River, is a reflection on femininity in a community where women strive to find bigger spaces of power, despite the perseverance of the chauvinist culture." — Carlos F. Márquez, La Jornada Jalisco

"The film shows the rebellion of a population that refuses to be subjected to political despotism, the exuberance of its landscapes, the river current that crosses the village, the beauty of the customs and traditions, all of it, through the common thread that is Tino's life, and of lovable friends like Raciel, a muxe that fights so that the youth does not view homosexuality as a curse." — Secretaria de las Culturas y Artes de Oaxaca

“Atempa speaks of “muxeidad,” but also of a population with many shortcomings, controlled by a powerful indigenous female overlord (“cacica”); a place that from the outside seems like a homosexual paradise, but in reality, where they suffer discrimination.” – Elisa Ruiz Hernández, Agencia Quadratín

Main credits

Caballero Trujillo, Edson (film director)
Caballero Trujillo, Edson (film producer)

Other credits

Cinematography and editing, Edson Caballero Trujillo.

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Morelia International Film Festival - Klic Prize for Best Mexican Documentary
Puebla International Film Festival - Best Mexican Documentary
Aguascalientes International Film Festival - Special Mention
International Film and Video Festival of the Indigenous Peoples FICWALLMAPU Chile - Gender Equality Award
Festival of Sexual diversity in film and video Mix Mexico
International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights Mexico DHFest

DIRECTOR: Edson J. Caballero Trujillo


YEAR: 2013

GENRE: Documentary

LANGUAGE: Spanish; Zapotec; Indigenous languages

COLOR / B&W: Color

GRADE LEVEL: College, Adults



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