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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!

Paco de Onís

Paco is the Executive Director and Executive Producer of Skylight, a human rights media organization dedicated to advancing social justice through storytelling by creating documentary films and media tools that can applied in long-term strategies for positive social change.

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