Day Nine: The Final Screening

We did it. The girls directed and produced mini-documentaries in just nine days!  To culminate the accomplishment, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles all took off time to trek out to La Galeria in Panajachel for the screening, arriving some 1.5 – 2 hours early to avoid the rain.  The room lit up as tones of K’iche, Tz’utujil, Spanish, and English rippled through the room; as the colors of the detailed, community-specific traje sparkled in a rainbow-sort-of-way; as everyone munched on elote (corn) brought by two of the moms.


Elote (corn) brought by two of the moms.

Elote (corn) brought by two of the moms.

At 6:30pm the lights went down, the families took their seats, and the screening began. First came remarks by Laura, the director of Maya Traditions Foundation, Patricia, the education consultant for, Javier, one of the two maestros de video, Jacqueline, the other maestra de video brought live to Panajachel over Skype (having left just the day before), and Marisol, the youth leader for Maya Traditions Foundation.  Marisol, a mentor and inspiration for these girls, spoke of the merits of education in her life and in the lives of these girls and the challenges they have to overcome: “Trabajamos especialmente con niñas. ¿Por que? Sabemos que las niñas no tienen las mismas posibilidades. En las comunidades rurales las niñas son simplemente discriminadas. (We work specifically with girls. Why? We know that girls don´t have the same possibilities. In rural communities, girls are simply discriminated against.)¨ Her words in both Tz’utujil and Spanish cultivated strength and resolve in these girls as they prepared to present their films. “Este evento se realizó con el fin de promover la voz de las mujeres jóvenes indígenas en el tema de la educación, dando a conocer las dificultades que enfrena cada estudiante con el único fin de ser mujeres profesionales. (The goal of this event is to promote the voice of the young, indigenous women in terms of the education, knowing the difficulties every student encounters in their ultimate goal to be a professional woman.)¨


Marisol giving her opening remarks in K iche and Spanish

Marisol giving her opening remarks in K iche and Spanish

With that, the girls came forward one by one to present their video and share it with their friends and family.


Ana came first. In her video, Seguir Adelante (Continue Onward), she speaks of the importance of her culture and the difficulties of her long journey to school. She wants to be una mujer exitosa (a successful women) and ignore those who tell her education is not for women, that at 17 years old she should just get married.


Next came Imelda, whose documents the hardships of a day in her life in her video Como Estoy Luchando en mi Vida (How I am Fighting in my Life). “Quiero compartir esta historia a las personas para que vean como estoy sufriendo, como estoy luchando. (I want to share this story so that other see how I am suffering, and how I am fighting.

Adelina introducing her video.

Adelina introducing her video.


Naydelin, in her video Mejor Futuro (Better Future), speaks of the importance of her community’s traje típico (typical clothing) and of her relationship with her mom.  Her personal power comes from family and culture, which drives her hopes for a better future.


Adelina’s video, El Derecho de Estudiar (The Right to Study), takes us inside her school, where she films the kids in her classes and kids playing in order to contrast it to kids who don’t have the opportunity to be in school, who don’t have the opportunities to be a kid.


Lucy, in her video Los Diseños de Mi Vida (The Designs of My Life), speaks about the importance of education and of the traditions and significance of each community’s traje tipico.  With education, she hopes to become un gran diseñadora (a great designer) of traje típico.


Lucrecia’s video Los Niños Sin Zapatos (The Kids Without Shoes) is very much focused on her sadness upon seeing these kids in her community working, not going to school, and living without shoes. She interviews a woman who does not have access to clean water, and speaks of her family’s inability to always pay for education.


María, in her video Tinte Natural (Natural Dye) follows her mother and grandmother as they explain the process of creating dyes from plants and trees for their traje típico, and her desire to get a degree in Administration to help women like her mom be more economically successful.


Finally, Ana María, who recorded all her own footage without help from the maestros, speaks strongly of her desire to get educated despite all of the obstacles in her way in Luchando Para Conseguir Oportunidades (Fighting to Get Opportunities).  She wants to continue making films to share the rich Guatemalan culture throughout the world.


Ana's mother speaking at the end.

Ana’s mother speaking at the end.

After all the videos played, the girls came to the front for a little Q&A, which turned into a testament of pride and love from their families.  Tears flowed from mothers, from sisters, and from the girls as they spoke of all the hardships they have overcome together, and of the strong bonds of family and of culture. “Yo estoy muy orgullosa de mi hija, y quiero que pueda lograr la educación y el futuro que desea. (I am very proud of my daughter, and I want her to be able to achieve the education and future she desired.)” said Ana’s mom, choked up.


Yo estoy haciendo el esfuerzo y estoy luchando para poder lograr una oportunidad y ser una mujer exitosa en mi vida, en medio que esto hice este video. Yo estoy muy orgulloso con mi video. (I am making this effort and I am fighting to be able to achieve an opportunity and be a successful woman in my life, that is the reason I made this video. I am very proud of my video.) “ said Ana Maria.


These girls truly wanted to share their story.  There is something powerful in describing your life’s key ingredients in one visual story, and asking the community to witness what you care about most. Their community of supporters were transformed by witnessing their bravery, pride, and perspective. We hope that the power of sharing and witnessing continues,  as we distribute the girls’ documentaries to more supporters around the world.

The girls receiving their certificates of completion.

The girls receiving their certificates of completion.

by Daniel Olitzky, March 1, 2017