Filmmakers’ Statement on the Making of “Disruption”

Since founding Skylight in 1981, we have been committed to the advancement of human rights and social justice through media.  We have told stories that explore and document a range of pathways to social change; from rebellion against a brutal military dictatorship in Guatemala (When the Mountains Tremble), to direct action movements by the poor in the U.S. (Takeover,Poverty Outlaw), to the role of new transitional justice mechanisms like truth commissions (State of Fear) and the International Criminal Court (The Reckoning), to the relationship of justice to social change (Granito: How to Nail a Dictator).

For more than 30 years, the human rights movement has achieved extraordinary advances in criminal justice, such as the prosecution of military dictators (Argentina, Guatemala) and former heads of state (Fujimori) for grave human rights violations.  But at the same time the roots of the social upheavals we’ve been documenting over this span – extreme poverty and economic inequality – have remained an endemic, even deepening atrocity.  DISRUPTION poses a challenge to the global human rights movement to rethink how economic rights can be made a significant force in development, through strategies that relate more effectively to potential allies in government and the private sector. We believe that those who believe in the power of human rights must find new ways to address economic injustice – and on a scale commensurate with the millions of people around the world that are mired in poverty.

DISRUPTION builds on our decades of commitment to the struggle for human rights to illuminate new developments that should be part of our debates about how they can be expanded and made more effective in our world today.

Pamela Yates (Director), Paco de Onís (Producer), Peter Kinoy (Editor)


A Human Rights MOOC

Welcome news for the human rights field: the eminent Chilean human rights scholar and activist José Zalaquet will be launching a human rights MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) next month from his base at Diego Portales University in Santiago.  Here is their announcement (y sigue el anuncio en español):

Free online human rights course on

Committed citizens all over the world are being attracted more and more to ‘issue politics’, including human rights. Thus, there is a growing need to contribute to the formation of an emerging generation of human rights leaders and activists. MOOC (Massive Online Open Courses) technology offers the opportunity to do this for free and with a global range.

Chilean human rights professor and activist Jose Zalaquett directs a MOOC on human rights from the University Diego Portales that will be initiated by the end of August 2014.  The course consists of 33 classes in English with captions. The classes average 10 minutes in length. They will be imparted by Chilean and non Chilean academics. The course could be followed for free in and in Youtube. More details in

 En español:

Cursos gratuitos en línea sobre derechos humanos en

“Ciudadanos comprometidos a lo largo del mundo se ven cada vez más atraídos hacia temas de interés público, incluyendo los derechos humanos. De este modo, existe una necesidad creciente de educar a una generación emergente de líderes y activistas en derechos humanos. La tecnología MOOC (del inglés “Massive Online Open Courses”) ofrece la oportunidad de hacer esto de manera gratuita y con alcance mundial.

El profesor chileno y activista de derechos humanos, José Zalaquett, dirige un MOOC en derechos humanos desde la Universidad Diego Portales, que comenzará a fines de agosto de 2014. El curso consta de 33 clases en inglés con subtítulos en el mismo idioma. Las clases duran en promedio 10 minutos. Serán impartidas por profesores chilenos y extranjeros. El curso podrá ser seguido gratuitamente en y en Youtube. Más detalles pueden ser encontrados en

Setting the Record Straight

There are several erroneous facts being published and republished in the mainstream media, and on social network sites and Wikipedia about me and my films. In my statement of our preliminary investigation into Batzul, dated June 9, 2014, I did not say that we were going to re-edit “When the Mountains Tremble”, and “Granito”. I wrote that, “We intend to make a correction that will clarify what happened in this scene.” What we will do is put a sticker on every single DVD explaining what we discovered in 2014 happened in the Batzul scene we filmed in 1982. We will place a title card with the same explanation at the head or attached to the films’ streams on digital platforms. In addition, we are editing a short film shot in Batzul in 2014 with what we now know to be the true story. This short film will be accessible free online in English and Spanish.


The other factual error is “Skylight Pictures produced two Guatemala based films prior to the making of When the Mountains Tremble. The first called Central America in Revolt and another hour episode of CBS reports called Guatemala.” I was hired as a sound recordist and associate producer on these two reports that were produced by CBS News, not Skylight Pictures. CBS News did not acquire films from independent filmmakers in 1982, nor do I know of them doing so now.


Read the Investigation Results / Lee los resultados de la investigación

(The following text was originally published on Facebook on June 9, 2014)

We have investigated the massacre scene from “When the Mountains Tremble”.

I met the woman eyewitness who speaks in our 1982 film, as well as 2 men who were in the village at the time of the killings – her husband was killed that day as were the fathers of the two men[1]. They guided us to their former village of Batzul, leaving our vehicle on a dead end dirt road and then hiking a mile on a narrow trail, along a ravine and through cornfields, until we arrived at the scene of the massacre. Nothing remains of that village except for the faint foundation of a schoolhouse.  We had to crawl under a barbed wire fence to get to the ruins of the schoolhouse because, according to our guides, what used to be the village is now private property. But by comparing images from our 1982 footage with the woman eyewitness today, it became clear to us that she was the same woman. And the 2 men were able to positively identify grieving family members who also appear at the scene in our 1982 footage. Comparing the geography of the surrounding mountains from our images of the Army helicopters landing left no doubt in our minds that the village where we filmed in 1982 was Batzul.


When we arrived there in 1982 in Army helicopters, Tom Sigel and I were told, and we thought, that we were in the outskirts of Chajul. Returning now 32 years later, our guides told us that shortly before the massacre, the Army had convened a meeting in Chajul, calling together the leaders of villages in the area and telling them that they had 72 hours to decide whether to collaborate with the Army or face consequences. Our guides told us that the village of Batzul decided to collaborate with the Army and formed a civilian patrol. What the woman eyewitness told me at that traumatic moment when I interviewed her in 1982 regarding the people who came and attacked wearing soldiers’ uniforms was true, and now we had the opportunity to hear the full story from her and our two male guides, all victims of the massacre.  They added that the guerrillas knew that Batzul had decided to collaborate with the Army, and the guerrillas pretended to be Army soldiers in order to trick the civilian patrol members into gathering in front of the schoolhouse.  When the Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico (CEH) published its findings in 1999, it found that the massacre was initiated by guerrillas dressed as soldiers to trick the members of the civilian patrol into gathering in front of the schoolhouse. This is what the CEH says then happened[2]:


The Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP) also used camouflage to trick the civilian patrol members, capture them and execute them for having collaborated with the Army. On May 17, 1982 at 6am, 3 men dressed as Army soldiers, in camouflage, arrived in the village of Batzul, municipality of Chajul, department of Quiché, but there were some 30 men dressed in olive green [fatigues] who were hidden in the outskirts of the village. They got all the men together and told them that they had to go on patrol to guard the bridge over the River Chicá. But before that they wanted the men to meet in the school in Batzul. They led the 17 men in a line to the school. They tied them all up and killed them one by one.


What our guides from Batzul, victims of the massacre, asked of us is that we make clear that the guerrillas and not the Army carried it out. We intend to make a correction that will clarify what happened in this scene in both “When the Mountains Tremble” and “Granito”. It stands as a reminder of the terrible human costs of the violence in 1982-83, when the Guatemalan Government launched a massive offensive against the Maya Ixil people – part of a state sponsored campaign targeting civilians and which led to the CEH’s findings that during the years of the internal armed conflict 93% of the deaths were at the hands of the Armed Forces.  What we have learned from this investigation will inform our new film “500 Years”. We remain committed to historical accuracy in our work and to supporting efforts to secure full human rights for all the people of Guatemala within a freely functioning democracy.


Pamela Yates, Peter Kinoy, Paco de Onís

[1] The woman and our two male guides wish to remain anonymous.

[2] Original Spanish version from the CEH Report: “El EGP recurrió también al camuflaje para engañar a los patrulleros, atraparlos y ejecutarlos por colaborar con el Ejército. 

El 17 de mayo de 1982 a las 6 de la mañana llegaron a la aldea de Batzul, municipio de Chajul, Quiché, tres hombres uniformados como soldados del Ejército, de pinto, pero unos 30 hombres que iban vestidos de verde olivo estaban escondidos en las afueras de la aldea. Juntaron a todos los hombres y les pidieron que fueran a patrullar para cuidar el puente de río Chicá. Pero antes dijeron que iban a hacer una reunión en la escuela de Batzul. Llevaron a los 17 hombres en fila hasta el lugar. Amarraron a todos y los mataron uno por uno. 


(El texto a continuación fue originalmente publicado en Facebook el 9 de junio de 2014)

Hemos investigado la escena de la masacre de la película “When the Mountains Tremble”.  Me encontré con la testiga que habla en nuestra película del año 1982, y además con dos hombres que estaban en el pueblo cuando ocurrieron los asesinatos; el esposo de la mujer fue muerto ese día, así como los padres de los dos hombres[1].  Ellos nos guiaron a su aldea anterior de Batzul.  Dejamos nuestro vehículo al borde de un camino de tierra y luego caminamos un kilómetro por un sendero estrecho, a lo largo de un barranco y por medio de una siembra de milpa, hasta que llegamos a la escena de la masacre. Nada queda de ese pueblo excepto la ruina de una escuela.  Tuvimos que pasar por debajo de una cerca de alambre de púas para llegar a las ruinas de la escuela porque, segun nuestros guías, lo que antes era el pueblo es ahora propiedad privada.  Al comparar imágenes de nuestro material de archivo de 1982 con el rostro de la testiga en el presente, quedó claro que ella era la misma mujer.  Y los dos hombres identificaron positivamente a los familiares en llanto que también aparecen en la escena en nuestro material de 1982.  Al comparar la geografía de las montañas de los alrededores con nuestras imágenes del aterrizaje de helicópteros del ejército, no dejó ninguna duda en nuestras mentes que el pueblo en el cual filmamos en 1982 fue Batzul.
Cuando llegamos en helicópteros del ejército en 1982, a Tom Sigel y yo nos dijeron, y nosotros pensamos, que estábamos en las afueras de Chajul.  Volviendo ahora, después de 32 años, nuestros guías nos dijeron que poco antes de la masacre, el ejército había convocado una reunión en Chajul, juntando a los líderes de las aldeas de la región y diciéndoles que tenían 72 horas para decidir si iban a colaborar con el ejército o enfrentar las consecuencias.  Nuestros guías nos dijeron que el pueblo de Batzul decidió colaborar con el ejército y formó una patrulla civil.  Lo que la testiga me dijo en ese momento traumático en 1982 con respecto a las personas que vinieron y atacaron vestidos de soldados era cierto, y ahora tuvimos la oportunidad de escuchar la historia completa de ella y de nuestros dos guías, todos víctimas de la masacre.  También dijeron que los guerrilleros sabían que Batzul había decidido colaborar con el ejército y que los guerrilleros pretendían ser soldados del ejército con el fin de engañar a los miembros de las patrullas civiles para que se reunieran en frente de la escuela.  Cuando la Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico (CEH) publicó sus resultados en 1999, concluyeron que la masacre fue iniciada por guerrilleros vestidos de soldados, con el fin de reunir y matar a los miembros de la patrulla civil.  Esto es lo que la CEH dice que sucedió:  “El EGP recurrió también al camuflaje para engañar a los patrulleros, atraparlos y ejecutarlos por colaborar con el Ejército. El 17 de mayo de 1982 a las 6 de la mañana llegaron a la aldea de Batzul, municipio de Chajul, Quiché, tres hombres uniformados como soldados del Ejército, de pinto, pero unos 30 hombres que iban vestidos de verde olivo estaban escondidos en las afueras de la aldea. Juntaron a todos los hombres y les pidieron que fueran a patrullar para cuidar el puente de río Chicá. Pero antes dijeron que iban a hacer una reunión en la escuela de Batzul. Llevaron a los 17 hombres en fila hasta el lugar. Amarraron a todos y los mataron uno por uno.”

Nuestros guías de Batzul fueron víctimas quienes perdieron familiares en la masacre, y nos pidieron que clarificáramos que se llevó a cabo por la guerrilla y no por el ejército.  Tenemos la intención de hacer una corrección a esta escena, tanto en “Cuando las Montañas Tiemblan” y “Granito”.  Sigue siendo un recordatorio del terrible costo de vidas humanas causado por la violencia en 1982-83, cuando el gobierno de Guatemala lanzó una ofensiva masiva contra el pueblo Maya Ixil – parte de una campaña patrocinada por el estado con enfoque en civiles, y que llevó a la conclusión de la CEH de que durante los años del conflicto armado interno, el 93% de las muertes fueron a manos de las fuerzas armadas.  Lo que hemos aprendido de esta investigación informará a nuestra nueva película “500 Años”.  Seguimos siendo dedicados a la precisión histórica en nuestro trabajo y apoyamos los esfuerzos para garantizar los derechos humanos plenos para todo el pueblo de Guatemala en el marco de una democracia libre.


Pamela Yates, Peter Kinoy, Paco de Onís

[1] La mujer y nuestros dos guías desean permanecer anónimos.

The Battle for Guatemala

Last week the battle for the soul of Guatemala came to a head during the genocide trial of former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. After the prosecution rested its case midweek with a screening of the full interview of General Ríos Montt conducted by Pamela Yates in 1982, the Ríos Montt defense said that their witnesses weren’t reachable, that their videos weren’t ready, and so forth – they were clearly delay tactics, in the face of which Judge Yasmín Barrios adjourned the trial to give them time to come back the next day prepared to defend their client.

ERM defense team 2As soon as she left the courtroom the defense team rushed to present a motion to the prosecution that they had filed in another branch of the judicial system, demanding the annulment of the trial. This led to a rather comical press crush that swung back and forth between the defense and prosecution tables as everybody tried to figure out what was going on. The defense strategy became clear – rather than prepare for a trial and gather evidence that would defend their client Ríos Montt, they applied their tried and true tactic of having a judge in the judicial system emit questionable rulings favorable to their aim of blocking or shutting down any genocide trial against Ríos Montt.

Judge Patricia FloresThat judge turned out to be Carol Patricia Flores, who has a checkered record of handing down questionable if not outright illegal rulings that reveal a pattern of bolstering entrenched impunity in Guatemala. Before her ruling to stop the trial was made official at 2pm on Thursday afternoon, that morning the Ríos Montt defense team had staged a stormy exit from Judge Barrios’ courtroom, shouting that the trial was an illegitimate sham. With only a couple of days left for the trial to conclude, their move of last resort was to try to delegitimize the trial and force it to shut down. After Judge Flores issued her ruling that afternoon before yet another press crush, it was followed by TV, newspaper and radio attacks on Judge Barrios and Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, impugning their character and questioning their motives, and giving voice to Ríos Montt supporters that claim there has never been a genocide in Guatemala.

People stand up in CourtroomBut AG Claudia Paz y Paz fought back saying that the Judge Flores ruling was illegal, and the next morning Judge Barrios convened her court and announced that she also considered the ruling illegal and that she would not heed it, and she was asking the Constitutional Court (Corte de Constitucionalidad – the ultimate judicial arbiter in Guatemala) to make a decision on whether the case could proceed. This led to a huge cheer from the audience and prolonged chants of “justicia, justicia” – it was an extraordinary moment and will go down in the annals of human rights history no matter which way the Constitutional Court decides (they have 10 working days to decide as of this past Friday April 20). The swell of emotion was clear in Judge Barrios’ expression as she clasped her hands to her heart and thanked the audience – she became an instant human rights hero.

Pam and RigoIn many ways all of this has made me think of the Jim Crow trials in the American South, reminiscent of “To Kill A Mockingbird”, with Judge Barrios being the Atticus Finch of this story, standing up against the deeply powerful forces of impunity. “To Kill A Mockingbird” was the first film that Pamela Yates ever saw and it opened her eyes to injustice in the world and put her on a path that led to the making of “When the Mountains Tremble”, “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator” and now “The Dictator in the Dock” (working title). Rigoberta Menchú was in the audience as well, and all these days at the trial I’ve often thought of her and Pamela’s parallel journeys in seeking redress for the tragedy that befell Guatemala, and how their paths have crossed again at this dramatic juncture of history.

With the court session closed, the gathered crowd spilled into the streets and marched 10 blocks through downtown Guatemala City to the doors of the Constitutional Court, demanding that it not become a court of impunity. Now we wait to hear what they will decide.

One big factor in play is how much the prospect of international opprobrium might play in the decisions of the judges, and how much pressure they might be getting from President Otto Pérez Molina one way or the other. While some say that Pérez Molina is wary that the genocide trial could eventually implicate him for his role in 1982 as military commander of the Nebaj army base (in the Ixil region), he has also made a great effort to position himself in the world as a respected statesman, by having Guatemala join the International Criminal Court the day after he took office; getting invited to the Clinton Global Initiative; receiving the Key to the City of Madrid; and so forth. A vote for impunity by the Constitutional Court could deal a serious blow to that image, and could spark a very embarrassing international campaign against impunity in Guatemala that could bring to light many facts beyond what has been presented at the Ríos Montt trial already. This week could tell what the future holds – stay tuned.

night vigil


“A Greater Story Never Told”


Yesterday began the historic trial of retired General and former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt on charges that he committed genocide against nearly 2000 Maya-Ixil people in Guatemala in 1982 – throngs gathered inside and outside the courtroom.  The dictator finally facing justice!  Guatemalan bootleggers at the scene saw this as an opportunity to sell pirated DVDs of our film Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, which tells the story of how our film became evidence in the genocide case.  If you look closely at the text at the top of the DVD, it says “UNA HISTORIA MAS GRANDE JAMAS CONTADA” (“A GREATER STORY NEVER TOLD”).  There is no honor or award that could surpass this endorsement of our film by the Guatemalan people.  Bootleggers all over the world are tuned in to their cultures, and what people want to see and hear.  Having your film bootlegged in a country is a great affirmation of its value in that society, whether it be for entertainment or in this case, hunger for a suppressed history and the restoration of collective memory.  The street price, by the way, is 10 Guatemalan Quetzales (US$1.25).

Using a Film to Nail a Dictator



Efrain Ríos Montt is going to trial. The brutal Guatemalan dictator is the first head of state to be prosecuted for genocide in genuine proceedings in his own country. And my video evidence helped send him there.

I went to Guatemala in 1982 to make my first feature-length documentary When the Mountains Tremble. Rigoberta Menchú, the protagonist, lays out what was happening from the Mayan perspective – why they were fighting, what they were fighting for, and how the civilian population was being viciously targeted by the Army in a scorched earth counter-insurgency campaign backed by the United States.

After Peace Accords were signed in Guatemala in 1996, a Truth Commission uncovered evidence that “acts of genocide” had been perpetrated by the State. This occurred during the bloody tenure of General Efraín Ríos Montt, the President and Head of the Armed Forces from 1982 – 1983, a period when the civilian massacres spiked. Yet whenever the possibility of seeking justice for Ríos Montt’s horrific crimes came to the fore, the General and his legal defense made excuses. Their primary assertion was that the General hadn’t known about it, nor had he ordered it. They ascribed the massacres to “rogue” elements in the Army.


Photo credit: Dana Lixenberg / Skylight Pictures

In 2003, I went to Guatemala to present the first public screening of When the Mountains Tremble at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala City. Although it premiered at the first Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast throughout the world, the film had been banned in Guatemala for 20 years. The auditorium was packed, standing room only. People told me as I entered that they had shown When the Mountains Tremble clandestinely thousands of times during the war years.

In the audience that night was an international attorney. She approached me afterwards and asked whether I had kept all of the filmic outtakes from When the Mountains Tremble.  She was investigating a genocide case, and two of the generals in When the Mountains Tremble were part of that investigation – General Efraín Ríos Montt and General Benedicto Lucas García.  Could I go and find the entire interviews I’d done with the Generals? Could I find all of the film of military missions including aftermaths of massacres?

And so we embarked on a kind of archeological dig through 25-year-old outtakes of 16mm negative film and ¼ audio recording tape, the raw materials of When the Mountains Tremble. Miraculously, I and my Skylight Pictures partners—Paco de Onís, the Producer, and Peter Kinoy, the Editor—had kept all of the outtakes in a warehouse in the swamplands of New Jersey.

The lawyers were as surprised as we were when they saw the outtakes.. In 1982, I had asked: “What would you say to the charges that it’s the Army that is massacring (Mayan) peasants in the highlands? Is there repression on the part of the Army?”

Ríos Montt responded, “There is no repression on the part of the Army. Our strength is in our capacity to make command decisions. The Army is ready and able to act, because if I don’t control the Army, then what am I doing here?”

My filmic evidence helped prove the prosecution’s command responsibility liability theory: Ríos Montt ordered the targeted killings.

All of this became part of the film GRANITO: How to Nail a Dictator, as well as the legal case. The prosecution actually projected parts of GRANITO on the walls of the courtroom during the evidentiary hearings. I was asked to testify in the case, show and verify the filmed material in court. It was important for me to testify to the fact that I had actually filmed all of the projected film and that the Judge see me there in the footage from 1982. I entered the DVDs of the outtakes and entire transcripts of interviews which had been typed on a manual typewriter in triplicate with carbon paper, as exhibits into evidence. I will never throw out anything ever again.

credit: Jean-Marie Simon


The search for forensic evidence was the genesis of GRANITO: How to Nail a Dictator.

I wanted to tell the story of the Guatemalan people who had never given up on the quest for justice to seek redress for the sole genocide in the Americas of the 20th century – the Guatemalan state’s attack on the Maya people – and include the role a documentary film played in that process. Because I was in every shot of the original footage, so that we could sync the image of me slapping the microphone with the 16mm film, we decided to include me in GRANITO, as a documentary filmmaker, as a witness. I wanted to relate not only the acts of genocide that occurred in Guatemala, but share my experiences over the years as a human rights filmmaker, for the next generation of documentarians.

The meaning of the word “granito” or tiny grain of sand, is a Mayan concept based in their communal values. It says that each of us has something to contribute to positive social change or in this case, justice. And that together we can make that change. The survivors, forensic anthropologists, archivists, and attorneys inside Guatemala and around the world have been tirelessly contributing their granitos.

In the past year the gathering of evidence and testimonies, plus the political will to prosecute in Guatemala have reached a justice tipping point. Last week, a Guatemalan judge cleared the way forward.

Ríos Montt’s trial begins.

This blog post first appeared on the WITNESS blog.

Imagining Impact: Documentary Film and the Production of Political Effects



The title of this blog is actually pulled from a fine essay by filmmaker and friend Meg McLagan, published in her anthology titled Sensible Politics: The Visual Culture of Non-Governmental Activism, published in 2012 by Zone Books.  If you’re interested in the nexus of politics and art and activism, I highly recommend this book.  For you filmmakers out there, here is a quote from the essay: “The structural transformation of long-form documentary in the last decade has reshaped its capacity for political intervention, the types of claims it makes, and the forms through which it makes them. One can see this as part of the broader reconstitution of politics and media that has taken place across a variety of domains, driven in part by developments in digital technologies.”

Regarding #stopKony

In terms of practical approaches to apprehending Kony, since I became aware of him when we began to make The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court in 2006, I’ve always wondered, who pays his satellite phone bill?  Where is he getting arms and ammunition?  Who is aiding and abetting him from the outside, and doesn’t the sat phone company know exactly where he is every time he turns on the phone, or even when the phone is off?  If I can locate my iPhone from my laptop, why can’t international intelligence operatives, and the U.S. army advisors on the ground in Uganda, figure out where he is?  We could find bin Laden but not Kony?  These are the questions that make me wonder what’s going on.  I have no conspiracy theory about this, but I do wonder why the issue of how Kony survives as an armed and connected warlord with backers, is never addressed.

Jumping Into the Fray for Justice

How can a documentary film contribute to social movements? By telling a story that captures the zeitgeist of a historical moment, that stirs and inspires audiences to reflect and to act. In this past year Granito: How to Nail a Dictator screened around the globe, from Amman to Auckland, Paris to Havana, São Paulo to Vancouver, New York to Moscow, Geneva to Lima, in over 50 film festivals. In screening after screening, audiences connected to the theme of the power of collective change espoused in Granito, resonating with the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements.  But most remarkably, Granito’s release added its ‘grain of sand’ to the tipping point for justice reached in Guatemala this year, where more perpetrators of the genocide against the Maya people have been arrested, tried and convicted  than in the previous 30 years since we released When the Mountains Tremble .  And now to reinforce that tipping point, we are launching a companion digital project designed to restore the collective memory of the genocide in a public online archive, described here – Granito: Every Memory Matters.  The film’s journey is reflected in the Granito Facebook page, where nearly 4,000 followers have rallied, sharing stories, news, and demanding justice.  And to get a sense of the people behind all of this, check out this slide show of photos of ‘granitos’ by renowned portraitist Dana Lixenberg.

As documentary activists who use film and advanced technologies to further human rights through storytelling, it’s been a memorable year for us, from the standing ovation at Granito’s Sundance Film Festival debut last January, to being Opening Night Film at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in New York, to vibrant discussions about power and democracy sparked at the Moscow screening , to meeting the amazing community that underpins Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival, to the nearly 1,500 people that filled 3 screenings in one night at the Hot Docs Doc Soup series in Toronto.  Another major highlight of the year was our Kickstarter campaign to make an indie run for an Oscar nomination, which brought 346 backers together with the goal of introducing the message of Granito to the millions of viewers that tune in to watch the Academy Awards.  In spite of a valiant effort we ultimately didn’t get nominated, but our biggest reward is that now we have 346 committed backers who believe in what we do!