One cannot visit or explore Guatemala without acknowledging its recent history, specifically the attempted genocide of the Maya people, perpetrated by the government and military. I found chilling evidence of this chapter a few years ago while visiting the northern Guatemala town of Rabinal; I went to a museum devoted to local Maya who were “disappeared” and to a cemetery with these images of violence (above).
Now, in a new interactive media project and film called GRANITO: Every Memory Matters, director Pamela Yates is connecting that recent past with the present. GRANITO is more than a film. It tells the story about the making of the 1982 documentary by Skylight Pictures, When the Mountains Tremble, and also discusses how her footage, transcripts, and outtakes are being used as forensic evidence in the current genocide case against several key players, including former Guatemalan military dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt.
I discovered the GRANITO project while browsing the list of all the great films and shorts I missed at the Boulder International Film Festival this weekend. GRANITO also features old and new interviews with Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú.
“Can a film tip the scales of justice in Guatemala?” the viewer is asked.
“Each of the five main characters whose destinies collide in GRANITO are connected by the Guatemala of 1982, then engulfed in a war where a genocidal ‘scorched earth’ campaign by the military exterminated nearly 200,000 Maya people. Now, as if a watchful Maya god were weaving back together threads of a story unraveled by the passage of time, forgotten by most, our characters become integral to the overarching narrative of wrongs done and justice sought that they have pieced together, each adding their granito, their tiny grain of sand, to the epic tale.”