We screened “When the Mountains Tremble,” Pamela Yates’ 1984 documentary depicting the involvement of the US military in Guatemala in the 1980s. The Guatemalan conflict, which began in 1960, six years after an American-organized coup toppled an elected president, lasted 36 years, with an estimated 200,000 people killed, more than 90 percent of them by government forces. Yates uses spot footage, interviews, video transmission, and re-enactment to show the war, and she focuses especially on the narrative of Rigoberta Menchú, the somewhat controversial Mayan-rights and peace advocate who went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.
Thirty years after it’s making, “When the Mountains Tremble” remains a compelling testimony to the struggle of the largely Indian population in a conflict rooted in the Cold War. This earlier documentary was reflectively and movingly complemented by Yates’ 2011 film, “Granito, How to Nail a Dictator,” which tracks combined efforts of human-rights advocates to bring Ríos Montt to trial. AVA-Berlin co-sponsored “Granito” in last November’s One World Film Festival.
Thanks to Gretchen for hosting this event.