Unlocking Silent Histories in Guatemala

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian highlighted the diversity of the Guatemalan Mayan cultures last weekend. During the celebration, I was inspired by a very original project called Unlocking Silent Histories. The goal of the project is to support indigenous youth to craft creative and free media expression.  I was lucky enough to see some of the short clips that Guatemalan indigenous youth created. Some of the screened videos were the following:

After screening the videos in the museum, three Guatemalan filmmakers talked about their experience creating these media pieces. One of the documentaries that served as an inspiration to Carmen, one of the young Mayan filmmakers, was When the Mountains Tremble. She mentioned she felt really inspired by the fact that a foreigner went to Guatemala to gather stories about the civil war in the country. She said that she wants to be a visual storyteller for her own community.

Another great talk was given by Carlos, a young filmmaker from the town of Sololá, near the beautiful lake Atitlán. He mentioned that he wants to become a more professional filmmaker because in his community many people do not feel proud of their indigenous heritage, and he wants to change that with media.

To me, it was really inspiring to see movies that were made in some of the mother tongues of these talented filmmakers (K’iche’, Kaqchikel, etc). I also enjoyed to learn how this project has inspired the young filmakers to get involved more professionally into making documentaries. I recommend you to keep an eye on these talented youth!

I would also love to see these type of empowering projects being replicated all across Latin America❤


(Andrea Arzaba, Washington DC, September 2016).

*The image used for this post was taken from mayatraditions.com. The woman in the left is Carmen, one of the indigenous filmmakers that participated at the event in the Smithsonian.

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