Granito: How to Nail a Dictator

A film by Pamela Yates

2012, USA, Documentary, 103 min.
In English, Quiché and Spanish with English Subtitles

Screening as part of the Cinema of Conflict & Transformation Film Series. Presented by the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Austin Community College and Cine Las Americas
[Read more about the series]

Friday, Nov. 15, 6:00PM - FREE
Austin Community College, Eastview Campus, Multipurpose Room, 8500

3401 Webberville Rd., Austin, Texas 78702 [Map]

In Attendance: Kent Norsworthy, Digital Scholarship Coordinator at LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections, offering a talk about the Guatemala National Police Archive.

In January 2012, Guatemalan general and former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt was indicted by a tribunal in Guatemala for crimes against humanity, and charged with committing genocide in the 1980s against the country's poor, Mayan Ixil people.
In 1982, young filmmaker Pamela Yates had gained unprecedented access to Ríos Montt and his generals, as well as the guerrillas and activists who were fighting them in a clandestine war deep in the mountains, among them a young Rigoberta Menchú. The resulting film, When the Mountains Tremble (1983) revealed that the Guatemalan army was killing scores of Mayan civilians in this “secret war.”
When the case against Ríos Montt was opened in a Guatemalan tribunal in 2012, Spanish lawyer Almudena Bernabeu asked Pamela Yates to dig through the original footage and outtakes of When the Mountains Tremble, in look for evidence against the former Guatemalan dictators. Granito examines how a documentary film and moving image evidence can change the fate of individuals and communities decades after it was shot, it reveals a filmmaker’s doubts, flaws and persistent links with her story and subjects, and it profiles the involvement of a few of the many individuals that contributed their “granito de arena” (grain of sand), in bringing to light the crimes committed by the Guatemalan army after 30 years of impunity.

En enero de 2012, el general y ex-dictador Guatemalteco Efraín Ríos Montt fué condenado en un tribunal de Guatemala por crimenes en contra de la humanidad, y acusado de ser responsible por el genocidio perpetrado en contra de el pueblo Maya Ixil en la década de los 80. En 1982, la joven cineasta Pamela Yates obtuvo acceso sin precedentes a Ríos Montt y sus generales, así como a las guerrillas y activistas que librarban una guera clandestina contra ellos en las lejanas montañas, entre ellos una también joven Rigoberta Menchú. El resultado de éste acceso fue el documental When the Mountains Tremble (1983), el cuál reveló que el ejército guatemalteco mató a cientos de civiles Mayas durante aquella guerra “secreta”. Cuando el caso en contra de Ríos Montt se abrió en un tribunal guatemalteco en 2012, la abogada española Almudena Bernabeu le pidió a Pamela Yates que revisara sus archivos de imagen y las escenas no incluidas en When the Mountains Tremble, en busca de evidencia en contra de los ex-dictadores guatemaltecos. Granito examina cómo una película documental, y la imágen en movimiento cómo evidencia, puede cambiar el destino de individuos y comunidades décadas después de su registro, revela las dudas, los errores, y los nexos que persisten entre una cineasta, los temas y los sujetos a los que aborda, y ofrece perfiles de algunos de los activistas que contribuyeron su granito de arena para sacar a la luz los crímenes cometidos por el ejercito guatemalteco después de 30 años de impunidad.

About the director

Pamela-YatesPamela Yates is an American documentary filmmaker. She was born and raised in the Appalachian coal-mining region of Pennsylvania but ran away at the age of 16 to live New York City. Yates is a co-founder of Skylight Pictures (with Peter Kinoy), 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.
Four of Yates’ films as a Director - When the Mountains Tremble; Poverty Outlaw; Takeover, and The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court — were nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and When the Mountains Tremble won the Special Jury Award in 1984. Her film, State of Fear: The Truth about Terrorism, has been translated into 47 languages and broadcast in 154 countries. Her most recent directorial effort, The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court (ICC), is an epic tale about the first six tumultuous years of the ICC, filmed across 4 continents in 6 languages over 4 years.
She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in support of her current Sundance offering, Granito a feature-length documentary that is part political thriller, part memoir, transporting audiences through a riveting, haunting tale of genocide and justice spanning four decades. She also directed the development of Granito:Every Memory Matters, a transmedia project using mobile applications to restore the collective memory of the Guatemalan genocide.

Granito: How to Nail a Dictator

Dir: Pamela Yates
2012, USA, Documentary
103 min. Video, Color/Black & White
In English, Quiché and Spanish with English Subtitles


Director: Pamela Yates, Director
Producer: Paco de Onís
Cinematographer: Melle van Essen
Editor: Peter Kinoy
Composer: Roger C. Miller
Sound Recordist: Richard Fleming
Graphic Design: Takaaki Okada
Sound Design: Benny Mouthon
Associate Producer: Beatriz Gallardo
Photographer: Dana Lixenberg



PAC FY14 Cinema poster