Saturday, June 18, 2011

Human Rights Watch Film Festival: Granito:How to Nail a Dictator (2011)

The beginnings of a wicked summer cold had me wondering if I should schlep into Manhattan to see Granito, Pamela Yates follow up to When the Mountains Trembled. having promised a friend I would pick up something from him made the choice to go a no brainer, but not a wise choice.

The film follows Yates reconnecting with the story she covered in Trembled, the civil war and genocide in Guatemala in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Hundreds of thousands of people either were killed openly by death squads or they just disappeared. Now some thirty years on people have begun to look for justice and Yates was contacted in regard to helping bring a case of genocide against those in power in the country.

It's been decades since I saw the first so I had to rely on the film clips in this film to refresh my memory of the earlier film(my cold forced me to leave before the screening that followed Granito-though I did pick up a DVD and hope to review it down the road). It would be unfair to compare the two films so I won't I'll only talk about this film and what it's like to see it cold.

Coming in cold I found Granito a well meaning, informative, but mostly oddly unemotional film. Forgive me I just never really connected with this quest to present a case for genocide. Okay, yes what happened was terrible, and the original footage has a kick to it, but outside of the one moment where a young woman finally gets a kind of closure about her dad, the film lacks emotion.

Full disclosure, I know part of the problem is that I've spent the first half of this year seeing a ton of emotionally grabbing films Semper Fi, Give Up Tomorrow, Gone, and more than a few others all had an emotional hook that Granito is lacking. Yes, I can connect intellectually but emotionally the film never grabbed me.

The worst part of the film was I got into a coughing fit in the middle of the film and I walked out for a twenty minute wander around the lobby (where I scared the snot out of the staff). When I went back in I felt as though I really didn't miss anything. How can you skip roughly 20% of a film and not feel like you missed anything?

Not a good sign.

I'm rather disappointed.

I can't see rushing out to see this. Rather I would wait for it to show up on PBS.

(As I said I did not stay, I left once the credits rolled and headed home in the hope of getting some meds and some rest, so I missed the talk back.)

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