Director Pamela Yates will do a Q&A via Skype following the screening
Produced by Paco de Onis
USA/Guatemala/Spain, 2011, distributed by International Film Circuit, Blu-Ray, color, 103 min.
When activist filmmaker Pamela Yates traveled to Guatemala in the early 1980s, civil wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua were frequently reported in the American media, but Guatemala had its own lesser known conflict, one which would become known as the “Silent Holocaust.” Genocide against the indigenous Mayan people of Guatemala was being carried out by the military and national police, all under control of General Efraín Ríos Montt, president and dictator, evangelical minister, friend of American televangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and ally of the Reagan administration which lifted a Carter-era embargo and provided weapons and aircraft to the Guatemalan dictatorship. Pamela Yates filmed army expeditions, guerrilla activities, and interviews with Rios Montt and other military leaders. At the time she thought she was capturing images of a brutal civil war. She had no idea she was also documenting a genocide.
Back home in the US, she turned her footage into the award-winning documentary WHEN THE MOUNTAINS TREMBLE (1983). Central to her depiction of the brutal repression of the Mayan people was Rigoberta Menchú Tum, a powerful spokeswoman for indigenous rights in Guatemala. In 1992 Menchú Tum received the Nobel Peace Prize and thereby brought worldwide attention to the atrocities of the 1980s in her homeland. She and others formed a movement to track down and prosecute the military leaders responsible for over 200,000 deaths and disappearances, primarily of Mayan people. During the first decade of this century, the Spanish National Court, which had successfully investigated Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet under the modern concept of universal jurisdiction, agreed to take up the case of the Guatemalan people against former President Ríos Montt and other participants in the genocide. At that point Pamela Yates, with her 20-year-old documentary and thousands of feet of outtakes, became an essential witness in the international case being heard in Madrid. She had interviews and visual evidence which could help “nail the dictator” and prove his culpability.
Four of Pamela Yates documentaries have been nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance: WHEN THE MOUNTAINS TREMBLE, TAKEOVER (1991), POVERTY OUTLAW (1997), and THE RECKONING: THE BATTLE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (2009). She and her partner Peter Kinoy founded Skylight Pictures, a company “dedicated to creating films and digital media tools that advance awareness of human rights and the quest for justice by implementing multi-year outreach campaigns designed to engage, educate and activate social change.” GRANITO will be opening on September 14th in New York City. – Chale Nafus, Director of Programming, Austin Film Society
Wednesday, September 21 at 7 PM
Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz (320 E 6th St)
Tickets: $8 General Admission / $5 for AFS Member & Students with valid ID (Scroll down for tickets)
Official GRANTIO: HOW TO NAIL A DICTATOR Website
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