Inspiring and haunting, The Pawn is a testament to strength and commitment in the face of adversity. On Kelly Díaz Reyes's 15th birthday, she shone at her quinceañera; but only two years later she was kidnapped, raped and killed. Her cousin Karin Gramajo became a lawyer in reaction to the terrible crime, and along with victim’s families, continues to fight valiantly for justice in Guatemala, a country with a rate of impunity of 98%. Astrid Elías Macario—kidnapped at 14—survived.
Every day dozens of decommissioned yellow school buses leave the United States on a southward migration to Guatemala, where they are repaired, repainted, and resurrected as the brightly coloured camionetas that transport the vast majority of Guatemalans to work each day. Since 2006, nearly 1,000 camioneta drivers and fare-collectors have been murdered for either refusing or being unable to pay the extortion money demanded by local gangs.
Short Films by Mayan Filmmakers:
La canasta (The Basket)
Dir: edgar Chitop/ 5’.30’’
Dir: Josefina Cuxl Xuc/ 7’.50’’
Dir: Ramón elías Quiñonez/ 8’
Dir: José Fernando Cum Marín/ 4’
Q’ omaneel (The healer)
Dir: Cleida Cholotio/ 9’
Nanimaj Chik (To Grow up Again)
Dir: elvis Caj/ 5’
Ru k’ux Qawa’ (On the Comal)
Dir: Leyzer Chiquin Chó / Berta Lidia Chirix/ 5’
Cecilia and Alicia are two young girls growing up in Guatemala. They play together, sharing dolls and secrets. Cecilia’s world is turned upside down when she discovers that Alicia has been paid to keep her company, and that now she is going off to the city to earn more money as a maid.
An adolescent girl is torn between her grandmother’s pressure to rediscover her Mayan roots and the life she believes her recently deceased mother wanted for her in New York. Her decision could tear her family apart.
In fear of an eventual invasion by those infected by violence, the neighbours of Villas de La esperanza arm themselves and share night patrols, risking their lives for the safety of their families. But battling violence with violence only spreads the contagion, and the neighbours will realize that the greatest danger is not what lurks outside their secure, gated community; the real danger lies within. In Guatemala violence is contagious, and we are all infected. The inauguration of Casa Comal in 2006 represented an important step forward for the film community in Central America.
Between 1982 and 1996, the Ixil and K’iche’ people took refuge in the mountains as a last resort to save themselves from the massacres carried out by the Guatemalan army, which took the lives of more than 200,000 indigenous people. After those fourteen years, the communities ended up settling in the northeastern part of the range, an area currently under siege due to its wealth of natural resources. This evocative documentary is a celebration of the resilience of people preparing to defend themselves against another coming war. A chant of hope from a community that will not give up.
Tomás Choc is two days and 150 kilometres away from seeing Lucía, his only living daughter. It has been twenty years since she was kidnapped from their K’iche’ Mayan village by the army during the Guatemalan civil war; she was just three years old then. Tomás has kept a journal of his experience of struggle, resistance and survival, hoping that one day he would be reunited with his daughter and able to give it to her. As this deeply sensitive and beautifully crafted film portrays, a journey of this magnitude must cover a distance that is not merely physical.