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"Granito: How to Nail a Dictator": New Film Tracks Struggle for Justice After Guatemalan Genocide

A new documentary links Guatemala’s turbulent past with those who are active players in its present.
 
 
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A new documentary links Guatemala’s turbulent past with those who are active players in its present. The film, "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator," which is part political thriller and part memoir, spans four decades, following several people as they search for the details that can be used to hold accountable those responsible for the genocide in which Guatemalan military and paramilitary soldiers killed more than 200,000 people. The film documents the movement by Mayans to seek justice, featuring Nobel Prize winner and indigenous Guatemalan activist, Rigoberta Menchú, who is challenging Pérez in the presidential election. We’re joined by the film’s director, Pamela Yates, and by Fredy Peccerelli, director of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation. The film documents his team’s work to unearth mass graves in a search for those killed by the military, even as he faces threats from clandestine groups that want the truth to stay buried. [Transcript to come. Check back soon.]

JUAN GONZALEZ: A new documentary about Guatemala links the country’s turbulent past with those, like General Otto Pérez Molina, who are active players in its present.  Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, part political thriller, part memoir, spans four decades. It follows several people, including the film’s director, Pamela Yates, as they search for the details that can be used to hold accountable those responsible for genocide. This is a portion of the film’s trailer.

PAMELA YATES: Ever since I filmed these generals in 1982, I’ve wanted to see them pay for their crimes.

KATE DOYLE: It is so hard to nail senior military officers who ordered this. When you want to indict a dictator, you need evidence.

PAMELA YATES: Witnessing is the essence of being a documentary filmmaker, capturing moments in time, never knowing how history will judge them.

FREDY PECCERELLI: People have it in their minds that anyone can be killed in Guatemala for nothing.

ALMUDENA BERNABEU: When I think about defendants, I get really angry. You know, I get really pissed.

FREDY PECCERELLI: It came in addressed to me. So it says, "Freddie  sic, [translated] we’re watching your kids’ schools and where you work. We’ll scatter your parts throughout the city."

ANTONIO CABA CABA: [translated] We’ll never remain silent. Ríos Montt wants to silent us, but he can’t. My name has a meaning. Antonio is the one who confronts the enemy.

RIGOBERTA MENCHÚ: [translated] If we Maya people don’t unite, we won’t survive.

FREDY PECCERELLI: So when we come along and do this kind of work, they’re afraid. They’re afraid. And they should be afraid, because we’re coming after them.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s an excerpt from the film  Granito: How to Nail a Dictator. Opened here in New York at the  IFC last night. For more, we’re joined by the director, Pamela Yates. She narrates the film’s central story about the search for evidence of Guatemala’s genocide, much of it drawn from footage she filmed in 1982 for her award-winning documentary When the Mountains Tremble. At least 200,000 Guatemalans died during the genocide.

We’re also joined by Fredy Peccerelli, director of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation. In the film, he leads teams to unearth mass graves in a search for those killed by the military, all the while facing threats himself from clandestine groups that want the truth to stay buried. He’s who you just heard in that trailer.

We welcome you both to  Democracy Now!

 
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