Cenotes are natural sinkholes found in various parts of the world, but they are especially common on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, where there are nearly 6,000. Serving for centuries as a source of freshwater to the local Mayan population, they are also a wellspring of legends and were once sites of ritual human sacrifice.

Starting in 2017, filmmaker Kaori Oda made three trips to cenotes in the Yucatan, filming and meeting the people who live there. The resulting film, “Cenote,” which had its international premiere at this year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam, is labeled a documentary, but is more of a poetic meditation on the mythic and ritual role of cenotes in Mayan life, going back into prehistory.

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