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Windows of opportunity

Everyone is asking us about the historic strike roiling the film industry as nearly 200,000 writers and performers join forces to get wage increases, protections against the use of actor images through artificial intelligence, boosts in compensation for successful streaming programs and improvements in health and retirement benefits.

While we’re in solidarity with the demands of the guilds, documentary filmmakers have created some organizations that center community over competition and strive for social dividends rather than financial ones.

This month’s newsletter features just one: New Day Films

Paco writes: 

“Independent filmmakers creating social issue documentaries, surfacing stories that are vital to a vibrant and resilient democracy, should be able to access spaces where these stories can become part of public discourse. The big streamers have increasingly shut out social issue docs on controversial subjects, and focused on a business model that entertains their subscribers with true crime, celebrity and music docs. The content that corporate streamers deliver feels more and more like TV, predictable and safe. But there is a need for a destination platform where challenging stories told by truly independent filmmakers can be seen and heard.”

Read his full article here


Anti-Corruption Candidate Bernardo Arévalo from the Semilla (Seed) Party Mounts a Major Challenge in Guatemala

Featured photo, above: Bernardo Arévalo campaigning (photo credit: Moises Castillo/AP)

An unexpected window of opportunity has opened in Guatemala. The progressive presidential candidate Bernardo Arévalo, a candidate poised to serve people instead of subjugating and stealing from them, made it into the final round against the establishment candidate, Sandra Torres. Though the business and political elite continue to try and mount a legal coup d’etat to stop Bernardo and his party Semilla (Seed), so far they have failed. The situation remains volatile and the personal safety of the candidate and Semilla party members are at risk. 

The Semilla movement was born out of the citizen’s uprising of 2015, which we documented and is the climax of our film 500 Years. It was a people’s movement that brought together the urban middle class and the rural indigenous communities. Together they created a powerful force that deposed the corrupt President and Vice-President.

Bernardo Arévalo is the son of Juan José Arévalo, the first democratically elected President of Guatemala, whose administration kicked off the Guatemalan Spring in 1945 that was to last ten years until 1954, when his successor Jacobo Árbenz was overthrown in a coup engineered by the U.S. government and carried out by the CIA. Seventy years later there is the hope for a new Guatemalan Spring, or as people say, “Guatemala florecerás” (Guatemala will blossom). If you’re Guatemalan, please vote on August 20th! This will be a close election.


Skylight Familia

We send love to Jess Search, a creator-innovator of Doc Society. The organization has lifted up our entire documentary community through their vision of the Good Pitch and by opening up multiple funding sources for independent, socially-conscious documentaries and their impact campaigns.

Jess writes, “Today I am sharing that I’m currently under the care of a neurosurgeon because like 300,000 others every year around the world, I’ve been diagnosed with a brain tumour. I’m stepping back from Doc Society — after 18 years of nonstop creative collaboration, dedicated craft, joyous partying and fierce camaraderie.”

We invite you to read Jess’s powerful statement: No Time Like the Present. You can send words of affirmation to Jess and the Doc Society team at


Bea Gallardo, center in red dress with the Skylight Team at the Emmys. (Photo: Skylight)

Bea Gallardo, the Co-Producer of Skylight’s films Granito: How to Nail a Dictator and 500 Years is part of Guatemalan presidential candidate Bernardo Arévalo’s campaign team. The rigors and uncertainty of documentary film production prepared her well for this role. Bea says, “A dear friend once told me, ‘In production, nothing is impossible.’ And being part of a presidential campaign in Guatemala, with all the challenges and obstacles that the enemies of democracy impose, I hold tight to his advice. Because our struggle represents the majority.”


Our SolidariLabs Mexico producer, Ignacio Decerega co-directed the film Ndatu Savi, Water’s Fate with Cristobal Jasso, which is now appearing in film festivals around the world. The film’s idea was a “ratoncito” (small idea) of a project focused on water rights that originated at SolidariLabs México.

The film explores the Mixtec, Chatino and Afro Mexican communities of Oaxaca’s Coastal region, for whom the future depends on water’s fate. 

The film screened at the Festival DOCA Argentina and the International Political Film Festival in Buenos Aires. It will next appear at the Africa Human Rights Festival, October 20-23, and other festivals in Latin America this fall.

This month it is screening at MUNIC 2023 (Muestra Nacional de Imágenes Científicas), July 20-27 and the Durban International Film Festival – July 20-30  in Durban, South Africa.

Watch the trailer here and follow the film’s social media for more screenings and information: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Pamela Yates

Pamela Yates is a an award-winning filmmaker and co-founder/Creative Director of Skylight Pictures, a company dedicated to creating feature length documentary films and digital media tools that advance awareness of human rights and the quest for justice by implementing multi-year outreach campaigns designed to engage, educate and activate social change.

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