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Guatemalan film "Nuestras Madres" won an award at Cannes Film Festival's "Critics' Week," becoming the nation's first film to achieve such acclaim.
“Nuestras Madres” (Our Mothers) is the first Guatemalan film to be screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France. The film also won the SACD (Authors Society) at the 58th edition of Critics’ Week, a parallel section of the festival.
The film directed by Cesar Diaz highlights the massacres of Indigenous Mayan population. The function film tells the story of a young researcher trying to identify the victims buried in mass graves during the 1960 -1966 civil war in Guatemala which left 200,000 dead or disappeared.
"The one who remains behind always has the feeling that the disappeared one day will appear, and that situation is terrible because you always have that hope," said the director.
Diaz’s father was one of the disappeared people and his experience worked as a point of departure for the film.
According to him, Guatemala is turning its back on the dead without giving their families any justice. He also argued that a lot has been spoken about Argentine and Chilean dictatorships but people are not aware of the Guatemala dictatorship and the film is born from the need to discuss the nation's history.
After the U.S. backed coup brought a military regime in Guatemala in 1954, an uprising began which led to a civil war between the government and leftist groups in 1960.
The rebels were mainly supported by the rural poor, composed of Indigenous, Mayan people and Ladino Campesinos (a mix of Mestizo peoples who are referred to as Ladinos by Spanish colonial power to describe Spanish speaking people who are neither elite nor Indigenous).
The Guatemalan government of the time was condemned for committing genocide against the Mayan people and violating the human rights of civilians.
The film shows real relatives of the dead and missing. Women are keeping the legacy alive and sharing it with the next generation.
"They are the ones that maintain the country. The day those women break down, the country is going to shit. They are the ones that maintain the memory, the wisdom and the healthiest social bonds,” Diaz said.
The director is “very excited” to be in Cannes with a film like this as, for him, cinema is a “political act, not just an artistic gesture.”