Friday, November 19, 2010

Video Break: Voice of a Mountain

I discovered this film about a year ago, and have watched it several times since then. I find it to be especially relevant and poignant because the setting is Guatemala and my son is Guatemalan, but I think even without that personal connection, it's just a really powerful documentary that does an amazing job of personalizing the hopes and the struggles of some of the people affected by the fair trade movement.

Maybe tonight you could postpone watching Supernanny or whatever other crap is on TV on a Friday night and watch this instead. I'm pretty sure you'll be glad you did.
Voice of a Mountain is a video documentary of the lives of rural Guatemalan coffee farmers who took up arms against their government in a civil war that lasted 36 years. This documentary explores Guatemala's dark history from the perspective of those who saw armed revolution as their only hope for change in a poverty-ridden nation under years of military dictatorship. Ex-combatants talk about the bleak reality of the country that led to their involvement in the war, and the response of genocide from the Guatemalan government against its people. The documentary gives insight into their motives for joining an armed conflict as interviews reveal personal accounts of struggle, hope, tragedy, and the fruits of their resistance.

The signing of the Peace Accords between the Guatemalan Government and Guerrilla forces in 1996 officially ended the longest civil war in Latin American history. Voice of a Mountain documents the reality of rural Guatemala in the wake of the civil war. It looks at the ideals and goals of patriots who fought against their government with the goal of changing their country and asks if they achieved what they were fighting for. The societal conditions that led to civil war are compared with the reality of three rural communities in present day Guatemala in an attempt to discover if conditions for the majority of those living in the country today have changed since the signing of the Peace Accords. The day-to-day realities of these three different communities who find their livelihood intricately connected to agricultural labor are documented, as they cope with the struggles of poverty, increasing debt, decreasing job opportunities, and the temptation to migrate north in search of a better life for their children.

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