The City College of New York

The series of lectures, conversations, film showings, exhibitions, and courses brings together faculty, students, and staff at CCNY and the New York City community to examine human rights through multiple lenses.


Human Rights Law & Documentary Filmmaking

Thursday, October 23, 2014

6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Division of Interdisciplinary Studies at the Center for Worker Education of the City College of New York (downtown, near Wall Street, in front of ‘bull statue’)
25 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Contact: 212 925 6625, ext 0

SUBWAYS: 4, 5 to Bowling Green; 1,R to Rector Street; J, Z to Broad Street 

In the spring of 2013, General Efraín Ríos Montt of Guatemala was tried and convicted of genocide (even if the conviction was overturned one month later). This was the first time in 500 years that genocide against indigenous Americans was tried. Clips from the documentary Granito (Skylight Pictures, 2011) were used as evidence in the trial. Now the filmmakers are working on the third film in the Guatemala trilogy, triggered by the trial and its aftermath, called 500 Years. Almudena Bernabeu, one of the lawyers who worked on the Guatemala Genocide Case, still serves transnationally on cases throughout the world.  The event will explore the path-breaking work of Spain in human rights law and the relentless commitment of intellectuals and activists in making the seemingly impossible possible. By bringing together documentary film, ethnography, and law, the filmmakers and lawyer who join us for this event are exemplary of how human rights can make a difference, even if the odds remain seemingly insurmountable. 

Photo by Horman Truth.

Photo by Horman Truth.

Almudena Bernabeu, International Attorney & Transitional Justice Program Director, joined CJA in 2003. Ms. Bernabeu is the lead on CJA's work in Spain on the Guatemala Genocide Case and the Jesuits Massacre Case and oversees CJA’s Transitional Justice Program.  Ms. Bernabeu has worked in human rights and international law for over sixteen years and has published articles on human rights litigation in national courts and its effectiveness in the struggle against impunity. She has also written on reforming Spanish asylum law and on the criminal legal reform in Spain.  Ms. Bernabeu has received many awards for her human rights work with CJA.  These include the Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize (2012), the Yo Dona Magazine prize (2012), the SCEVOLA award (2013), and the Human Rights Hero Award (2013) by the Program for Torture Victims. She also was included as one of Time Magazine's 200 most influential people (2012) and was named by the Spanish newspaper El País as one of the top 13 most influential leaders in the Spanish and Latin American world (2013).  In 2011, Ms. Bernabeu’s work on the Guatemala Genocide Case was featured in the documentary Granito: How to Nail a Dictator that debuted at Sundance Film Festival.  Ms. Bernabeu is vice-president of the Spanish Association for Human Rights and serves as an adviser to the Human Rights Clinic at Santa Clara University.  She also serves on the Advisory Boards of the Peruvian Institute of Forensic Anthropology and the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation and is Vice-Chair of the International Human Rights Section of the Bar Association of San Francisco.  She is a member of the Valencia, Madrid and American Bar Associations.  Ms. Bernabeu graduated from the University of Valencia School of Law, where she specialized in Public International Law, and is licensed to practice in Spain, she also was awarded an Honoris Causa PhD in Law from Santa Clara University.


Pamela Yates, an American documentary filmmaker, is director and partner of Skylight Pictures. She was born and raised in the Appalachian coal-mining region of Pennsylvania but ran away at the age of sixteen to live in New York City. Yates is a co-founder of Skylight Pictures (with Peter Kinoy), a company dedicated to creating films and digital media tools that advance awareness of human rights and the quest for justice by implementing multi-year outreach campaigns designed to engage, educate and activate social change. Four of Yates’ films as a Director - When the Mountains Tremble, Poverty Outlaw,Takeover, and The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court — were nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and When the Mountains Tremble won the Special Jury Award in 1984. Her film, State of Fear: The Truth about Terrorism, has been translated into forty-seven languages and broadcast in 154 countries. Her film, The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court (ICC), is an epic tale about the first six tumultuous years of the ICC, filmed across four continents in six languages over four years. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in support of her Sundance offering, Granito: How to Nail a Dictator (2011) a feature-length documentary-political thriller, part memoir, which transports audiences through a riveting, haunting tale of genocide and justice spanning four decades in Guatemala.  She also directed the development of Granito: Every Memory Matters, a transmedia project using mobile applications to restore the collective memory of the Guatemalan genocide. Yates recently completed Disruption (2014), a documentary which explores innovative strategies to reduce poverty through women's economic empowerment in Latin America. She is currently working on 500 Years, the third in a triology of films (following When the Mountains Tremble and Granito), which explores the battle for the national narrative in present-day Guatemala. 


Photo: Joshua Kristal

Paco de Onís grew up in several Latin American countries and is multi-lingual. Most recently, de Onís produced Skylight Pictures’ film Disruption, about women’s economic empowerment in Colombia, Peru and Brazil. In 2011, de Onís produced Granito: How to Nail a Dictator(world premiere at Sundance), a documentary detective story focused on the role of filmic and archival documentation in the prosecution of a genocide case against Guatemalan generals, and launched Granito: Every Memory Matters, a companion transmedia project. De Onís also served as the producer on Skylight’s film The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court (world premiere Sundance 2009), a documentary accompanied by IJCentral, an interactive audience engagement initiative promoting global rule of law, developed at the BAVC Producerʼs Institute in 2008. Prior to that, he produced State of Fear, a Skylight Pictures film about Peruʼs 20-year “war on terror” based on the findings of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. De Onís is a partner at Skylight Pictures alongside Pamela Yates and Peter Kinoy. Prior to his work at Skylight he produced documentaries for PBS ("On Our Own Terms” with Bill Moyers), National Geographic ("Secrets from the Grave"), and a range of other programs. Before producing television documentaries, he created music festivals in South America & the Caribbean, renovated and operated an arts/performance theater in Miami Beach, (The Cameo Theater) and owned and operated a Spanish-style tapas tavern in a 500-year old colonial house in Cartagena, Colombia.


Emmy-nominated Granito: How to Nail a Dictator is the most recent in a long line of social justice documentaries for Producer/Editor Peter Kinoy. Three decades ago Kinoy founded Skylight Pictures with filmmaking partner and longtime collaborator Pamela Yates. Kinoy specializes in documentaries that let the audience feel part of exciting but unreported worlds. He produced and edited When the Mountains Tremble, the “prequel” to Granito about a revolutionary moment in Guatemala that won a Special Jury Prize at the first Sundance Film Festival in 1983. Takeover, the story of homeless activists illegally seizing houses was the first riveting doc in a trilogy about an underground anti-poverty movement in America that included Poverty Outlaw (Sundance-1997) and Outriders (PBS-1999). He pioneered self-documentation with small format cameras with Teen Dreams, a searing look at youth living on the edge (Sundance 1995). Kinoy took audiences deep into the criminal justice system with a PBS special Presumed Guilty about the trials and tribulations of Public Defenders. He edited the award winning State of Fear (Best reporting on Latin America, Overseas Press Club), and The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court, (POV 2009) an international thriller about the possibilities and pitfalls facing humanityʼs quest for international justice. Peter Kinoy has a passion for teaching and has mentored emerging filmmakers at City College of New York, Columbia University, Casa Comal in Guatemala, and at the International School of Film and Television in Cuba. He was a founder of The Media College of the University of the Poor here in the US. He is a member of The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Sanford headshot by Julien Charlon 2012 (1).jpg

Victoria Sanford is professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology, and founding director of the Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies at Lehman College. She is a member of the Doctoral Faculty at the City University of New York Graduate Center.  She is a Research Associate at Columbia University’s Center for International Conflict Resolution and an Affiliated Scholar at Rutgers University’s Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights.  She holds a doctorate in Anthropology from Stanford University where she studied International Human Rights Law at Stanford Law School and she holds a certificate in Human Rights Law from the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights in Costa Rica. She is a former John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, a Bunting Peace Fellow at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, a Rockefeller Fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, a MacArthur Consortium Fellow at Stanford’s Center for Security and Cooperation, an Inter-American Institute for Human Rights Fellow, a Fulbright-Hays scholar, an Inter-American Foundation Fellow and the recipient of grants from the United States Institute for Peace, Fulbright Teaching/Research Award, and Soros Foundation Guatemala, Open Society Institute,  and the Shaler Adams Foundation, among others.

She is the author of Buried Secrets: Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala  (2003), Violencia y Genocidio en Guatemala (2003),  Guatemala: Del Genocidio al Feminicidio (2008),  La Masacre de Panzos: Etnicidad, Tierra y Violencia en Guatemala (2009), editor (with Asale Angel Ajani) of Engaged Observer: Anthropology, Advocacy and Activism (2008), and co-author of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation's report to the Commission for Historical Clarification (the Guatemalan truth commission). In August of 2012, she served as an invited expert witness on the Guatemalan genocide before Judge Santiago Pedraz in the Spanish National Court’s international genocide case against the Guatemalan generals. She has published and presented her work in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Japan, South Korean, England, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Slovenia, Germany, France, Spain, and South Africa. She is currently writing This is How It Works ~ Violence and Traumatic Memory Across Generations.  For more info:

Special thanks to Mary Lutz, Dean Juan Carlos Mercado, and The Documentary Forum, CCNY Center for Film, Journalism, and Interactive Media.

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