Wednesday, January 26, 2011

DJ's take on Granito!

Granito.  In English, means a “tiny grain.”   However, this translation doesn't totally do justice to the Sundance film's motivation, agency, and powerfully presented message. In the Guatemalan Mayan tradition, a granito is more analogous to a stepping stone or a rung on a ladder.  After decades of American backed dictators stripping Latin America of its history, culture, and identity, the native Guatemalans know that swift justice would not be realistic. Enter the idea of a single granito.

A single tiny grain may seem to some so insignificant, so ineffectual, so powerless.  However, together a collective of many tiny grains  can contribute to momentous change.  Together many granitos can work to identify and confront injustice.  Together many granitos can stage a protest and raise awareness.  Together, many granitos can unite and change the world.  It is not typical for one to wake up in the morning, yawn, stretch, and say, “I want to change the world.”  In Guatemala, that sentiment would more likely be “WE want to change the world,” because a central value is community.  And a community is a collective of granitos.
A spark inside me arose when I recalled the College from which I will soon receive a degree. Saint Mary’s has three distinct traditions: Catholic, Liberal Arts, and Lasallian. The Catholic ideals originate from social teaching by members of the faith such as Dorothy Day and Father Damien. The Liberal Arts angle provides students a pathway to converse about the intricacies of life through Seminar, then experience them during January Term, not the least of which I am partaking in by attending this Sundance Festival. The Lasallian tradition contains many core values, including quality education concern for the poor, and respect for all persons. Saint Mary’s has only 2,500 students, but they contribute over 42,000 hours of service every academic year, according to the social justice center on campus, CILSA. But one person did not perform all of this service alone; in fact, over half of the student body contributed to the final number. When all is said and done, I will have contributed over 1,000 hours during my four-year career at SMC. I consider myself a grain in the midst of a field of change that contains many other like-minded granitos.
Granito, is a Sundance documentary film that revisits the tragedies of a revolution seeking justice in Guatemala.  It features several people who are working towards positive retribution and transformation in the aftermath of a struggle of the people, by the people, and for the people. Some granitos include a lawyer seeking redemption following her father’s disappearance, a forensic archeologist uncovering and cataloguing mass graves of some of the 200,000 murdered despite facing daily death threats, and lawyers working on the case on an international level to bring the perpetrators of the Guatemalan genocide of the 1980s to justice. The moving portrayal of a country attempting to heal MUST be seen to understand the effects of the United States’ involvement in international affairs - particularly in Latin America - to understand the importance of a film festival to demonstrate an urgent social justice problem, and to understand a culture regaining its relevance and identity.

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