Maya and Guatemalan History in Film — Live from the Archives

May 13, 2016

Pamela Yates and Peter Kinoy have been working to document the political situation of Maya people in Guatemala since the 1980s, their best known film is When the Mountains Tremble, a documentary about the genocide of Maya people in the country at that time.

Recently Peter found footage from the Museum Archives’ Butler collection of Guatemala from 1940 to use for their latest film, 500 Years, scheduled for festival release in 2017.

The film is the third in a trilogy we are making about social change in Guatemala. The first film was “When the Mountains Tremble” that we shot in 1982, the second “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator” in 2011, and now “500 YEARS.” The new film looks at the possibilities for social change in Guatemala through Mayan eyes. Most of the protagonists are Mayan, and the main storyteller is an incredible Mayan anthropologist and journalist, Irma Alicia Velasquez Nimatuj. The material from the UPENN collection we are interested in forms a non-verbal visual introduction to the story.

Peter Kinoy
people in Guatemala celebrate the end of a reign of terror
Guatemalans react to news that Congress has denied presidential immunity to Otto Pérez Molina, a former Army General. Within 12 hours he would be arrested, arraigned, and imprisoned without bail awaiting trial. From the film 500 Years (photo credit: Carlos Sebastián).

Penn Museum will host a screening of this film soon after the festival release; please keep your eyes on this page for updates, penn.museum/culturefilms