Filmmaker Pamela Yates Nails a Dictator

Friday, June 3, 2011

Directors Kathryn Bigelow and Pamela Yates enjoy the New York spotlight in June. Bigelow gets a retrospective at the MOMA and Yates' new documentary about a genocide trial in Guatemala spotlights her own role in providing forensic evidence.

(WOMENSENEWS)--For amazing cinema this month, look to Pamela Yates' latest, "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator."

It opens the annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival, taking place at New York's Lincoln Center from June 17 to 30. Nineteen films will be presented and many are directed by women or focused on women's rights issues and achievements around the globe.

But the spotlight goes to Yates and this remarkable companion film to a documentary she made decades ago. "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator" is about the heroic efforts the Guatemalan people are making to bring to justice the former military commanders responsible for the genocide that ripped apart their country during the 1980s. And, Yates tells the story of her own involvement with the case.

Bookmark and Share

Her 1982 documentary, "When the Mountains Tremble," exposed the genocide to international scrutiny and gave its lead character, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, a public platform that eventually led to her receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. Now, a quarter of a century later, the footage Yates captured of soldiers carrying out mass killings has been used in court as forensic evidence against the very commander who gave her permission to shoot it and against Guatemala's former president and commander-in-chief.

The film is gripping. But not only that, it is in itself evidence of the importance of filmmaking. If you think films can't change the world, see this film and think again. If you can't make the festival screening, "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator" opens theatrically this fall and will be broadcast by PBS's "POV" in 2012.

Bigelow in the Spotlight

June also brings kudos to the film department of New York's Museum of Modern Art for honoring director Kathryn Bigelow with a mid-career retrospective of her work, up to and including "The Hurt Locker" (2008), the film for which she became the first woman in history to win an Academy Award for "Best Director."

"Crafting Genre: Kathryn Bigelow" kicked off on June 1 with a screening of Bigelow's first feature, "The Loveless" (1982), and the premiere of the recently completed 35 mm preservation of "Set Up," a short she completed in 1978. Bigelow introduced the evening's program and participated in a post-screening Q and A. The retrospective continues through August 13, giving Bigelow fans the opportunity to see all of her films--eight features and a number of shorts--on the big screen. It also includes exhibits of Bigelow's scripts and other memorabilia.

Bigelow is one of the best! By making feature films only of her own design and maintaining control over them from start to finish, she has, as a female director, consistently defied genre and gender pegging.

And, now, back to the calendar for June's most noteworthy theatrical openings.

On June 3, "Beautiful Boy" tells a tragic tale that echoes some of our worst headlines. Directed by Shawn Ku, and starring Michael Sheen and Maria Bello, it is the story of what happens to a married couple who is struggling to keep their relationship alive when they receive news that their 18-year-old son went on a shooting spree at college, then killed himself. The film is well made and moving.

June 3 also brings the opening of "Love, Wedding, Marriage," a trite dramedy about a female marriage counselor--herself a newlywed--who must suddenly deal with her own parents' divorce. Scripted by Anouska Chydzik and Caprice Crane, the film stars Mandy Moore. Trite. Treacle. Tripe.

0 COMMENTS | Login or Sign Up to post comments



Foster's Family Drama Leads Bevy of May Movies


Kathryn Bigelow as Best Director? Bring Her On!

Crime Policy/Legislation

Guatemala Pressed to Investigate Surge in Killings