When the Mountains Tremble

January 11, 2012 - 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Directed by Pamela Yates and Newton Thomas Sigel.

In the early 1980s, death squads roamed the Guatemalan countryside in a war against the unarmed indigenous population that went largely unreported in the international media. Filmmakers Pamela Yates and Newton Thomas Sigel threw themselves into the task of bringing the crisis to the world’s attention by making a documentary that took them into remote areas of the country where civilian massacres were taking place.  Despite the long history of oppression it depicts, the overall effect of the film is exhilarating; with clarity and energy it conveys the birth of a national and political awareness. Central to their story is Rigoberta Menchú, a Maya indigenous woman who was spurred into radical action by the murders of her father and two brothers.

When the Mountains Tremble, which was originally released in 1983, has been digitally re-mastered and updated since Menchú was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. The film now includes what happened in Guatemala in the intervening 10 years, and footage of the Nobel ceremony.

The film was released theatrically in 40 U.S. cities and 30 foreign countries. It was shown on PBS and recieved awards at the Sundance Film Festival (Special Jury Award), the American Film Festival (Blue Ribbon Award), and the Havana Film Festival (Grand Coral Award, Best North American Documentary).

Free to the Public