Pamela Yates has been chronicling the plight of the Maya people in Guatemala for over 30 years now. In 1983 she released “When the Mountains Tremble,” which included Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu’s firsthand account of the war between the Central American country’s military and the Maya population.
She followed that pivotal documentary with “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator” in 2011, which traced how her own 1983 doc had become an instrumental piece of evidence in the mounting case against General Efraín Ríos Montt, former Guatemalan military dictator, for his role in the genocide of the Maya people. Granito further showed the resilience of a community besieged in their own country.
Now, with “500 Years,” Yates is capping off her Guatemalan Trilogy with a powerful indictment of the impunity that still riddles the country following the much publicized trial of Ríos Montt.
As its title suggests, though, the documentary is helpful history on more than 500 years of discriminatory practices that pushed the Maya people of Guatemala to their near-breaking point. A celebration of resistance in the face of injustice, “500 Years” intricately weaves an engrossing history lesson with a template for to how to successfully protest and demand change within a system designed to silence you.
“500 Years” will have its U.S. theatrical premiere on July 12 at New York’s IFC Center, followed by a release in select cities.
Timed to coincide with awards season, the documentary will also be available to stream later this year exclusively on Amazon Prime Video as part of “Film Festival Stars.”
Check out the “500 Years” trailer below.