Pamela Yates talks about 500 YEARS


Paladin presents the Los Angeles theatrical premiere of Pamela Yates’ latest documentary, 500 Years on July 28 at the Laemmle Monica. The film, which played to standing ovations at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is the third and final installment in the filmmaker’s epic cinematic trilogy, The Resistance Saga, which also includes Yates’ seminal human rights films When the Mountains Tremble (1982) and Granito: How to Nail a Dictator(2011).
500 Years will have its U.S. theatrical premiere on July 12 at New York’s IFC Center, followed by the Los Angeles opening on July 28 and a release in select cities.

Timed to coincide with awards season, the film will also be available to stream later this year exclusively on Amazon Prime Video as part of  “Film Festival Stars” — a new program designed to establish an attractive distribution model for films screened at major film festivals.

500 Years tells the epic story that led Guatemala to a tipping point in their history, from the genocide trial of former dictator General Ríos Montt to the popular movement that toppled sitting President Otto Pérez Molina. Focusing on universal themes of justice, racism, power and corruption, 500 Years tells the story from the perspective of the majority indigenous Mayan population in Guatemala, and explores their struggles in the country’s growing fight against impunity.

As with Yates’ previous two films, created in close collaboration with editor Peter Kinoy and producer Paco de Onís, the eagerly anticipated 500 Years continues the epic saga of sweeping social and political change in Guatemala. Set in the tumultuous three-year span between 2013 and 2016, the film’s gripping high points include the genocide trial of former dictator General Ríos Montt, in which footage from Yates’ first film When the Mountains Tremble is used as evidence by the prosecution. The trial results in the conviction of Montt, but when the verdict is overturned by Guatemala’s business and political elite, the film thrillingly captures a citizens’ uprising so massive and sustained that it ultimately topples the presidency of Otto Pérez Molina.

At its sold-out screenings at Sundance this January, audiences quickly related the film’s themes of oligarchy, impunity, corruption and resistance to the new political environment in the U.S. in the days immediately following Trump’s inauguration. 500 Years has received standing ovations at the Full Frame and Ashland Independent Film Festivals, enhanced by in-person appearances by the film’s heroines, Mayan activists Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj and Andrea Ixchíu, whose stories of victorious non-violent resistance have become an inspiration to audiences worldwide.

500 YEARS (2017, USA, 105 min) Directed by Pamela Yates. Produced by Paco de Onis. Edited by Peter Kinoy. Cinematography by Melle van Essen and Rene Soza. With Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj, Matilde Terraza Gallego, Daniel Pascual Hernández, Andrea Ixchíu Hernández and Julio Solórzano Foppa. A Skylight  production. A Paladin release.

To learn more about this film we had a video interview with Pamela Yates, director of 500 Years.


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Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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