Sunday, July 8, 2012

15. Granito: How to Nail a Dictator

 Justice for the Genocide in Guatemala

What exactly is the relationship between law and film?  In his book The Memory of Judgment Lawrence Douglas analyses the screening of the 'Nazi Concentration Camps' documentary during the International Military Tribunals in Nuremberg.  He makes the argument that Nuremberg was the first time that an international court used 'film as witness'.  The judges and others present in the courtroom were able to see from the footage some of the unspeakable atrocities committed during the Holocaust.  It is now common place for video footage to play vital roles in trials. Some scholars such as Richard Sherwin have stated that we can't understand the law without regard to these digital changes and their effects on criminal trials (When Law Goes Pop)

How to nail a dictator, Pamela Yates' follow up documentary to When the Mountains Tremble is about her journey to find potential evidence of criminal responsibility of the former Guatemalan army General Rios Montt in her outtakes of the documentary she made in Guatemala in the 1980s.  Yates had gone to Guatemala to make a film about the genocide which is finally being brought to trial in the Audencia Nacional in Spain.  The documentary notes how Spanish lawyer, Almudena Bernabeu, of the Center for Justice and Accountability in San Fransisco had the idea to contact Yates.  Yates had interviewed Rios Montt and other military commanders, currently under investigation for international crimes under Spain's universal jurisdiction laws.  

I really enjoyed watching this documentary having had the pleasure of meeting Almudena a couple of times during my period as staff attorney at Womens Link.  Beyond this, the film demonstrates how lawyers, forensic personnel and filmmakers can all work together to make accountability a reality.  Rigoberta Menchu, the Nobel Peace Prize winner explains that 'granito' means that we are only but one piece of sand, one piece of the puzzle, and that we must all work together to do what we are called on to do.

An interesting and reflective piece. It demonstrates how lawyers can get creative but furthermore, provides a reminder and follow up to the excellent documentary When the Mountains Tremble, highlighting that there is still to be justice for the Guatemalan people. 

No comments:

Post a Comment