500 Years, the much anticipated third film from Director Pamela Yates, continues the epic saga of indigenous resistance in Guatemala that began with When the Mountains Tremble (1983), followed by Granito: How to Nail a Dictator (2011; POV 2012). All three films will have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival over a 33-year period.
From a historic genocide trial to the ousting of a president, mounting resistance played out in Guatemala’s recent history, through the actions 500 Years tells a sweeping story of and perspectives of the majority indigenous Mayan population, who now stand poised to re-imagine their society.
In 500 Years, the Mayans lead Guatemala to a historical tipping point, from the genocide trial of former dictator General Rios Montt to the citizens’ uprising that toppled President Otto Pérez Molina. While indigenous peoples of Guatemala are no strangers to oppression, change finally seems possible with these recent popular movements
500 Years also introduces the music of up-and-coming Mayan singer/songwriter Sara Curruchich, who sings Ralk’wa’l ulew (Children of the Land in Mayan language Kaqchikel) at the close of the film.
As witness to this heroic moment in Guatemalan history, 500 Years documents the beginning of the end of a culture of impunity and a society ready for change. Focusing on universal themes of justice, racism, power and corruption, 500 Years resonates throughout the Americas, from Canada to Tierra del Fuego.