It is very difficult to explain what is happening in Guatemalan cinema. How can a small country, without a cinema law and with so many conflicts, make such good cinema?
Pamela Guinea is a Guatemalan film producer, and has worked on many films, including NUESTRAS MADRES (‘OUR MOTHERS’), which won the Caméra d’Or – Best First Feature, Cannes Film Festival in 2019.
Christian Sida is the Director of The Vancouver Latin American Film Festival (VLAFF) and recently spoke with Pamela, to try to understand a little more about what is happening in Guatemala and to know more about the cinema produced there.
As a whole, the cinema produced in Guatemala has a historical weight and, for Pamela, this recent painful history continues to touch acutely the film-makers of her generation.
“Perhaps the young people who are making films are not very interested in talking about that, because in Guatemala it is also difficult to talk about historical memory. There is an agenda that says that it is better to forget, that everything remain in the past. However for us, for those it touched directly, or for our parents, it is something that moves us and hurts us and we want to continue talking about this. Hopefully the day will come when we don’t have to talk about this, even the violence that exists in Guatemala today is a product of that. Guatemala is a country with a lot of movement, you realize in its literature, its painting, its cinema now, and all this is very powerful because history has given us this, it has given us the subject matter.”
NUESTRAS MADRES is one of the latest films that Pamela has worked on as part of the production.
“People in Guatemala are waiting for the film with great eagerness. It is a very controversial subject that generates a lot of debate, and although the Caméra d’Or award made a lot of noise, I don’t know how they will receive it when they see it. And, this has also happened with LA LLORONA (dir. Jayro Bustamante). This trilogy that Jayro has made has been quite important, he has a very strong and powerful vision about the country itself, but this issue of armed conflict and genocide is quite delicate. We are very polarized still. OUR MOTHERS has generated a lot of press, but I do not know what will happen. We plan to release the film this month at the International Film Festival of Memory Truth Justice (Opening Film), but we will not have a commercial run in theatres yet. We are going to wait, as it is not easy to premiere in commercial cinemas. The important thing about these films is that they promote dialogue and perhaps we will not all agree, but at least our point of view is heard.”
NUESTRAS MADRES (‘OUR MOTHERS’) is due to be screened in London this weekend as part of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.
You can read the full piece, including in Spanish, here, on the VLAFF website.