In 1982, Pamela Yates was a novice documentary maker setting out to tell the story of the oppression of the indigenous people of Guatemala.
She could not have imagined that thirty years later this extraordinary film would become part of the trial that indicted Guatemalan dictator Ríos Montt.
When the Mountains Tremble is the first in Yates’ trilogy of films covering 35 years of the story of Mayan resistance in Guatemala. Made in 1982 at the height of the Guatemalan Army’s repression against the Mayan indigenous people, When the Mountains Tremble has become a classic political documentary.
It describes the struggle of the largely Indian peasantry against a heritage of state and foreign oppression.Centered on the experiences of Rigoberta Menchú, who later became a Nobel Peace laureate, the overall effect of the film is exhilarating. With clarity and energy it conveys the birth of a national and political awareness.