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Posted by on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 in News, Uncategorized.

2.       New Film by Major Filmmaker Luis Argueta Needs Your Support
3.       Major New Historical Work by GSN stalwarts Chris Lutz and George Lovell
Some Interesting Links

CLAS should have video soon, but according to all it was an amazing event, which included a dinner for the three judges with
California Governor Jerry Brown

2.       New Film by Major Filmmaker Luis Argueta Needs Your Support
Imagine never having met your grandparents
Imagine helping a child meet his
Dear Thomas,
Alejandro Lopez, a 10 year-old boy who loves writing and math, boarded a bus at midnight on July 1st. in Worthington, MN, bound for the Omaha International Airport. Thus began a 3,000 miles trip that would transform his life and that of many people around him. Two days, two planes, and three bus rides later, Alejandro arrived in San Marcos, Guatemala, and was greeted by his grandparents, who until then he had never met.

I invite you to join me in telling Alejandro’s story, which is part of my new documentary, Abuelos y Nietos Juntos: Two Generations Together; a film  about the transformational journey of a group of US citizen children who travel from Minnesota to Guatemala, to visit their parents homeland and to meet their grandparents, for the first time.  My crew and I filmed the families in Minnesota and Guatemala and we were able to documented this entire emotional pilgrimage. We are now hard at work editing the documentary and we need your help to finish it and share it with the world.

In order to complete the film I have started a Kickstarter campaign. (Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative projects. Since its launch in 2009, 4.9 million people have pledged $807 million, funding 49,000 creative projects.)  We’re looking to raise $38,000 (or more) by November 13th. The way Kickstarter works is that we will not receive a penny (and your credit card will not be charged) unless we meet our goal by the deadline.
Please take a minute to watch our Kickstarter video by clicking here and consider making a donation. You will have my sincere gratitude and you will also receive unique rewards at every level of support.

I believe that this inspirational story will engage audiences, promote dialogue about the crucial issue of family unification, and inspire others to replicate the initiative of bringing grandchildren and grandparents together – building bridges across cultures and across generations.

In addition to pledging, you can also help us by spreading the word. Please, tell your friends and family about this project through conversations, Facebook, Twitter blogs, and other social media. We are relying on our social networks – and yours – to get the word out there. If you have any questions or ideas about people we should contact, please feel free to email me at

Thank you for being part of a project that I know will have a lasting effect on its viewers. It already has on everyone who has been part of it so far. 
signature LA 11
Luis Argueta
Sí se puede, with a lot of help from our friends.

3.       Major New Historical Work by GSN stalwarts Chris Lutz and George Lovell
University of Oklahoma Press is pleased to announce the publication of “Strange Lands and Different Peoples”: Spaniards and Indians in Colonial Guatemala
Here is the link to the book page—note the e-card feature for sending announcements about the book.
The press release and book jacket are attached and may be used for promotional purposes.
Here is the link to book flyers with ordering information:  


A Documentary Film Explores Memory

by Pamela Yates

Walking up to 12,000 feet in the Peruvian Andes took two entire
days. With Ramiro Niño de Guzmán, a Quechua-speaking human rights
leader, I set out for his childhood home in Checcasa, along the same
path that the army had taken when it attacked his village in 1988,
accusing his family of being Shining Path insurgents. His brothers
were tortured and killed, his sisters raped and dismembered. But this
was 2006 and Ramiro and I were returning to Checcasa to show the
villagers the documentary film he was featured in and that I had
directed called State of Fear: The Truth About Terrorism. Ramiro
wanted to have State of Fear create a village-wide dialogue about
their memories of the war, and, steeped in that painful memory, have
them demand action from the local government to provide promised

State of Fear is a film that looks backwards as well as forward.
It tells the story of what the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation
Commission discovered about what had really happened during Peru’s
20-year war from 1980 to 2000. The Commission contested the official
version that President Fujimori had promulgated, saying he had created
economic prosperity and saved the country from terrorism. It replaced
that narrative and rewrote that chapter of Peruvian history, giving
voice to those most affected by the violence. The Commission’s
findings indict both Shining Path and the government for the massive
death toll. They called both for specific military members to be
prosecuted, and for a change in the conditions of poverty and
exclusion that set the stage for the rise of Shining Path.

My experience of being on the inside filming during the Truth
Commission’s investigation inspired the making of a film about
historical memory, now in pre-production, titled Memoryscape. Of
course I would have to include Peru’s ongoing contested memory in this
new documentary.

Our premise for the new film is that memory is fundamental to our
humanity. For most of recorded time, history was written primarily by
those in power to serve their own interests. Today, the establishment
of historical memory is more likely to at least involve debate—and in
the best cases negotiation—among competing groups and social forces.
Indeed, a society’s shared memories are constructed under specific
political circumstances. When different sectors of society have
conflicting narratives and framing of past events, vested interests
manipulate the present political environment to try to ensure that
their version of events is accepted. In countries like Peru with
violent and painful pasts, unresolved memory issues can have a toxic
effect in the present—perpetuating a societal trauma that needs to
find resolution.

Today we strive for a process of remembering that is increasingly
democratic, collective, exciting and contested. When a nation engages
in debate over how to memorialize its past in public spaces, the road
to consensus is usually fraught with fiercely opposed points of view
coming from all segments of society, from the heights of academia and
state agencies to grassroots movements. In countries around the world,
competing groups now have a voice—though often only through fierce
struggle—in constructing the physical, narrative, and emotional
landscape of shared memory. These memoryscapes—made up of elements
ranging from memorials and museums to street signs—and the process of
creating them are the subject of our film. A global trend is afoot
with the evolution of historical memory into physical places embodied
by sites of conscience and public memorials.

Memoryscape’s journey in Peru will focus on why a society must
properly remember in order to progress—a process of consensus that
seeks to integrate painful memories into a shared historical
narrative. In Peru, despite an exhaustive truth commission and high
visibility trials, entrenched political forces have made it extremely
difficult for the country to properly bury its dead with the sacred
rituals of remembering, to grieve deeply, to survive the pain and move

Since the release of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation
Commission’s Final Report in 2003, and its cinematic reflection in
State of Fear, Peruvian society has been embroiled in a dramatic and
often violent battle over how to understand and remember the 20-year
“war on terror” with the Shining Path. Was ex-President Alberto
Fujimori a hero who vanquished terrorism or a criminal who trampled
human rights and used fear of terrorism to undermine democracy? Was it
necessary to forfeit civil liberties to achieve security? Instead of
definitively answering those questions, Fujimori’s recent trial,
conviction, and sentence to 25 years in prison for human rights crimes
has sparked a new wave of debate and polarization over Peru’s history.

In Lima, for example, some Fujimori supporters vandalized El Ojo
Que Llora (The Eye That Cries), a memorial that seeks to commemorate a
wide swath of those who died in the conflict—the military;
government-backed citizen militias; imprisoned Shining Path
insurgents; and civilians caught in the crossfire —in an effort to
unite Peruvians. Yet the simple question of who is a victim and who is
a perpetrator, who should be remembered and who deserves to be
forgotten, remains contested and has wreaked havoc upon this memorial,
bringing violence into a place intended for healing. It is a fraught
political and moral controversy: for example, should the Shining Path
prisoners who were killed extra-judicially by the governments of Alan
García and Alberto Fujimori be named victims? Through interviews with
Peruvians from across the political spectrum, Memoryscape will show
how victims were not simply those killed by the Shining Path and armed
forces, but the many people who continue to live, haunted by physical
torture and psychological nightmares of the armed groups from two
decades ago. Our film will dramatize how El Ojo Que Llora stands for
the potential of a memorial to be a space for reflection and
re-humanization, and how when such living memory is reconstructed
individually and collectively, it can generate conditions for people
to demand justice.

In the absence of a productive engagement with the past, the
reemergence of the Shining Path under the Movimiento Por Amnistía y
Derechos Fundamentales (MOVADEF) banner is possible. MOVADEF is a
political movement made up of young people from the lower middle class
who have attended university and are outraged by overwhelming economic
inequality, lack of access to education, and other human rights abuses
in Peru. These youths are saying that the brutality of Abimael Guzmán
and Shining Path is a thing of the past, and are calling for an
amnesty, thereby seeking to normalize the past by creating a narrative
that says violence is part of what happens in war, and should simply
be accepted. While MOVADEF is attempting to be a part of the political
process by forming a political party, it has not renounced the
nihilist ideology rooted in violence that guided the original
emergence of Shining Path in 1980. Through interviews with these
youth, Memoryscape will show the tragic myopia of historical memory in
Peru. In a recent New York Times article, Francisco Soberón, executive
director of Peru’s leading human rights organization Asociación Pro
Derechos Humanos, described historical memory as a “vaccine” helping
Peru to “prevent the rise of projects that can bring us back down that
road of terror and violence.”

In conceiving Memoryscape, I recognize the inherent challenges and
risks of drawing comparisons across very different places, yet am
convinced that only a cross-cultural examination of this subject will
reveal the essential human need to link together past, present, and
future. Our overarching goal in the film is to tell a universal story
while illuminating the specific histories and cultural contexts in
Peru (contested memory), Spain (repressed memory), Germany (embedded
memory) and the United States (mythologized memory).

The visual storytelling in Memoryscape will come from a place of
profound contemplation. The combination of innovative actors that
motivate the modern memory movement, and poetic cinematography that
describes the panorama of different experiences, will try to inspire
new thinking in the viewers’ consciousness. Our trajectory as human
rights filmmakers will build the narrative on the notion that truth,
memory and justice must powerfully work together.

Moving through time and space, Memoryscape will evoke the
profound emotions associated with memory: fear, anger, grief,
nostalgia and reverie. Viewers will be part of a journey of discovery
through architectural spaces, sites of conscience, monuments, and
public art works that can illuminate historical and collective memory.
At times I will employ a straightforward chronological approach
mirroring the linear and mechanical way of how memory is constructed,
with each unique event triggering the next. At other times the
presentation of images will represent a very different understanding
of the structure of memory, as when past events burst into a person’s
present life reflecting a moment when we experience the importance of
remembering as an engine for decision-making in the present. Finally,
there will be sequences that are more of a reflection of our memory
that has no boundary of time, so that the events of one period may be
examined in tandem with those of a much different historic moment.

Viewers will engage with our shared humanity at the core of each
story through the people we follow who play essential roles in the
film. For example, in Peru we will weave together the stories of
indigenous Andean villagers, Fujimori supporters and family members of
those killed by the Shining Path, individual artists creating
memoryscapes, youths in the MOVADEF movement, and commissioners of
Peru’s Truth Commission.

A hallmark of all my films is the understanding that the
geography in the closeup of the human face is the most beautiful
panorama of cinema. We connect visually with the eyes on the screen,
and the emotion and memory connected to our limbic brain kick in.

Film is also unique in its ability to explore the dimension of
time with the non-linear nature and construction of memory. Legendary
Russian Director Andrei Tarkovsky considered filmmaking to be
“sculpting in time.” The ability to expand and compress time in the
film medium makes it a perfect vehicle for the exploration of
historical memory. Memoryscape will be a part of the modern movement
to reflect historic memory in physical spaces, bringing the audience
into an intellectual and emotional relationship with contested issues.
In this way, we will stimulate the desire to be part of the quest to
make historical memory an integral component of human rights and the
quest for democracy.

Pamela Yates is a documentary film director and co-founder of
Skylight. Her film State of Fear was translated into 47 languages and
broadcast in 154 countries. Her latest film is Granito: How to Nail a
Dictator.  She is now working on the sequel 500 Years,  about the Ríos
Montt genocide trial.

UO releases book and documentary on human rights in Guatemala
EUGENE, Ore. (Oct. 11, 2013)—The English translation of a Spanish-language report on an archive documenting human rights abuses in Guatemala and a new documentary film on the same subject will help raise awareness of human rights around the world.
The translation and film are the result of a collaboration between academic units at the University of Oregon and Guatemala’s Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional (AHPN). With funding support from the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC), and other campus units, two UO faculty members, Carlos Aguirre and Gabriela Martínez, headed up the projects for the UO.
In 2005, a massive amount of documentation belonging to the former Guatemalan National Police was discovered. The archive contained information on systematic human rights violations committed during the country’s civil war from 1960 to 1996.
The AHPN has since issued a report, “From Silence to Memory: Revelations of the National Police Historical Archive.” AHPN’s work is attracting worldwide attention from archivists, librarians, scholars, activists and human rights organizations.
Aguirre, UO professor of history, wrote the foreword to and edited the English version of the report. The UO Libraries has made the English version available.
In connection, Martínez has made a documentary on the archive, “Keep Your Eyes on Guatemala” (RT 54 min.). The film features interviews with victims, relatives, human rights activists, lawyers, archivists and forensic anthropologists to shed light on the tragic history of Guatemala and hope for the future. A trailer is available now; and the full length film will be available to educators, students, human rights advocates, archivists, and the general public free of charge beginning Oct. 24.
Andrew Kirkpatrick, videographer and producer from the UO Libraries' Center for Media and Educational Technologies, assisted Martínez with the videography during a second filming trip Martínez took to Guatemala. In addition, Kirkpatrick assisted with the post-production phase of the documentary. 

To mark the launch of these two resources, a symposium entitled “From Silence to Memory: Archives and Human Rights in Guatemala and Beyond” will take place Oct. 24, on campus. Scholars and archivists will discuss the importance of archives and the work by the AHPN, and highlight the contributions of Aguirre’s book and Martínez’s documentary. A screening of “Keep Your Eyes on Guatemala” is scheduled at 6 p.m. in 221 Allen Hall.
Thomas A. Offit Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
Baylor University
(254) 710-6226

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