35 Years. 3 Films. 1 Story.

Watch the Recap of the World Premiere

at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York


“The Resistance Saga” is a cinematic and artistic high-profile project designed to galvanize audiences to fight back when society is faced with authoritarianism and demagogues. The event highlights the role that the arts can play in creating, strengthening and communicating narratives of nonviolent resistance. In so many ways, indigenous peoples throughout the Americas have set the example of long-term courageous and strategic resistance against daunting odds, with a powerful example being the saga of the Mayan people as depicted in director Pamela Yates’ films When the Mountains Tremble, Granito: How to Nail a Dictator and now 500 YEARS. The event is a day-long immersive gathering that includes all three films, followed by the Mayan women protagonists of the films leading a forum on long-term movement building, and a concert by Mayan singer/songwriter Sara Curruchich singing her inspiring songs of resistance.

The event will be tailored to fit each location’s cultural and political milieu. Local movements in resistance are invited to participate in a facilitated discussion with the audience and Mayan resistance leaders to exchange best practices and tactics. The event will aim to highlight and celebrate the fundamental role that the arts can play in building and sustaining resistance movements, as well as fostering new networks of solidarity that unite artists and activists in creating and disseminating powerful narratives to shift cultural perceptions.

All three films of the Guatemala trilogy have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival over the course of 35 years. When the Mountains Tremble (1984) introduced indigenous rights leader Rigoberta Menchú as the storyteller in her role to expose repression in the midst of Guatemala’s brutal armed conflict. The film received the Special Jury Award at Sundance and was seen all over the world and was translated into 10 languages. It helped put Menchú on the world stage and ten years later she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Yates’ sequel, Granito: How to Nail a Dictator (2011) is a political thriller that details international efforts to build a genocide case against Guatemalan General Efraín Ríos Montt. The case included the use of outtakes from When the Mountains Tremble as forensic evidence in the prosecution of the General. Yates was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship for her work on Granito and the film was nominated for a national Emmy for Outstanding Investigative Journalism in a Long Form Documentary. The third film, 500 YEARS: Life in Resistance had its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and had its debut in Europe at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival London and the Geneva Human Rights Film Festival and Forum this March.

The Resistance Saga opened in New York at Lincoln Center as part of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival on June 11th, 2017. Watching the three films together, followed by a forum with the filmmakers and the powerful women leading the Guatemalan resistance, and concluding with a concert by rising Mayan singer/songwriter Sara Curruchich (who recorded a song for the 500 YEARS soundtrack), was an unforgettable experience and a unique opportunity for audience who engaged with the wisdom of the Mayans.


The Resistance Saga at the Lincoln Center

June 11, 2017
A special event which featured Skylight’s Guatemala Trilogy and was
followed by a Q&A with filmmakers and the Mayan women leaders featured in 500 YEARS. The night ended with a concert by Mayan singer Sara Curruchich.


If you are interested in bringing The Resistance Saga to your community, please fill out the form below: