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Rigoberta Menchú Anoints Granito at Sundance

Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú came to the Sundance Film Festival to anoint our film Granito and to support the launching of the Ford Foundation JustFilms Initiative. Ford Foundation and Robert Redford hosted the dinner for Rigoberta to celebrate the JustFilms/Sundance Institute partnership. JustFilms’ goal is to advance social justice worldwide through the talent of emerging and established documentary filmmakers. JustFilms supports works that educate, motivate and create positive change in people’s lives by conveying stories that have the power to transform how we think and act. Ford Foundation has committed $50 million to do so.  Goodbye Boffo Box Office, hello Impact!

It was an unforgettable evening, an intimate dinner at Redford’s Zoom Restaurant. We showed a 10-minute sample from Granito and Orlando Bagwell, the Director of JustFilms, called Rigoberta, Paco and myself up to the front of the room to speak about Granito and my long collaboration with Rigoberta going back to When the Mountains Tremble which played at one of the first Sundance Film Festival 27 years ago.

Rigoberta was in fine form.  She enthralled Ford Foundation and Sundance Institute leaders with her eloquence on the importance of social justice storytelling, and even said that,  “When the Mountains Tremble saved my life.  It made it more difficult for people to forcibly disappear or kill me when I was in the refugee camps. That is the power of storytelling.”

She noted that, “Arresting visual narratives can open eyes and open hearts. A  film can collectivize the suffering of victims who have been afraid to speak openly about their experience. They realize they are not alone.”

Then she went back to When the Mountains Tremble saying that, “Its power lies in the dignification of the Maya people, presenting me as a credible woman, not as a victim”.


Alejandro de Onís is a social entrepreneur and Director of Skylight Digital. As Director of Skylight Digital, he works to increase impact and outreach by creating platforms and new media technologies that make it easy for people to engage with social issues.

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