Ilana Lapid | Feature | 26 mins | 2016 | Belize/USA | English | PG

Please note:
We just completed our professional sound design and final mix at Technicolor, in Los Angeles. The only thing left is color timing, which will happen in April. ***The screener that I am submitting has not been color timed.


Kerry Johan Landero
Evan Martinez
Dean Santos
Maria Garcia


Yochi is the 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. Yochi is a film about connection, finding your voice, and protecting that which is most sacred to you.

Yochi is a US-Belizean co-production shot in May, 2016 in western Belize, with a cast made up entirely of Belizean non-actors from villages in Cayo district. We shot in San Antonio Village, the surrounding jungle, and Mountain Pine Ridge. The film Yochi is in four languages: Yucatec Mayan, English Creole, English, and Spanish.

The Yellow-Headed Parrot, found in the lowland pine savannah of Belize, is gravely endangered due to poaching and deforestation. Populations of Yellow-Headed Parrots have declined over 90% since the 1970s. Yochi engages a complex issue by humanizing all the characters – and in doing so, will encourage dialogue about the underlying social and economic factors that lead to poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. Yochi is the first film of its kind in Belize, and the Belize Film Commission has recently identified it as a film that can have social impact.

Yochi is just beginning it’s festival run – it premiered at the 2016 Belize International Film Festival, and won Best Short, and has since been completed with professional sound design. Yochi went on a 6-city screening tour in Belize, combined with outreach and education about poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.  The Wildlife Conservation Society is interested in using Yochi in conservation education in Belize, Guatemala and other countries. We are currently subtitling the film into two dialects of Mayan and Spanish.


Daniel Velazquez is a filmmaker and multi-media artist. He started working on film production in Belize in 1994 while in the US Peace Corps, promoting conservation projects for local and international broadcasts. In 1998, Velazquez worked on a National Geographic series called “Tales of Belize” produced by Emmy-award winning Carol and Richard Foster. In 2000, he started shooting video of the local Chicano art scene in Los Angeles, where he also shot anti-war movements and produced multi-media art exhibits. In 2003, Velazquez moved back to Belize to shoot, edit and produce wildlife conservation documentaries and collaborate in narrative film productions. In 2012, Velazquez began building Belize’s first film industry, along with Canadian filmmaker Matthew Klinck, and produced Belize’s first all-local cast and crew feature-length 2012 film Curse of the Xtabai. In 2013, Velazquez co-founded the Belize Documentary Film course series, along with Carol and Richard Foster, in coordination with Ilana Lapid and Kristi Drexler of New Mexico State University.