Lukas Avendaño, left, in a frame from the film. Lukas Avendaño, left, in a frame from the film.

Muxe artist’s search for missing brother focus of short documentary

The Oaxaca muxe's search was inspiration for The Utopia of the Butterfly

The search for a Muxe artist’s missing brother is the focus of a short documentary doing the rounds of film festivals and cinemas.

Directed by journalist Miguel J. Crespo, La Utopía de la Mariposa (The Utopia of the Butterfly) was nominated for best short documentary at last week’s Morelia International Film Festival in Michoacán.

Lukas Avendaño’s brother Bruno went missing on May 10, 2018, and since then, the Muxe anthropologist, writer and performance artist has had one goal: to find him.

Considered a third gender in the Zapotec culture of Oaxaca’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Muxes are men raised to assume the social, cultural and economic roles of women.

“I no longer say that I’m an artist, teacher, researcher, because all my time is for Bruno,” said Avendaño.

He has fully dedicated his work as well to the search. Whether at home or abroad, he uses his artistic endeavors to spread awareness of Bruno’s disappearance.

“I’m always trying to link [my work] to him. It is a way to make his case visible and demand that the details of his disappearance be made clear.”

Avendaño’s art has taken him far and wide. In May, he performed at the International Theater and Street Art Festival of Valladolid, Spain. It was director Crespo’s interest in the artist’s work that initially led him to interview Avendaño.

And after hearing what Avendaño and his family were going through, Crespo came up with the idea for the documentary.

Bruno Avendaño was a naval officer, but according to Lukas and his family, the navy did nothing to ascertain his whereabouts.

Lukas takes any chance he can get to tell Bruno’s story.

“I never say no to an interview, because each one is an opportunity to make Bruno’s story visible and . . . continue challenging the authorities . . . to do their jobs,” said Avendaño.

However, there is still no trace of Bruno, or even an official investigation into the circumstances of his disappearance.

Earlier this year, the number of people listed on the National Registry of Missing and Disappeared Persons surpassed 40,000.

Sources: Milenio (sp), Pluma Atómica (sp)

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