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From paper to screen



Guatemala and El Salvador – two nations battered by corruption, human rights violations, injustices, persecutions, and dispossession, that share these unfortunate commonalities. The project, “From Paper to Screen,”  introduces two visual proposals for contemplating sexual education and political violence. This initiative, led by Akahata, once again brings together
these two Central American countries.

“Hilar las venas” (Spinning the Veins) and “Nuevas Ropas, Viejos Hilos” (New Clothes,
Old Yarns) are two screenings that leave reflection and mixed feelings in the audience.
The productions were made by women with a diverse team from both territories.

The project began by convening artists from different parts of Latin America to translate  audio-visually ideas that are in print and that are complex and relevant to the discussion of anti-gender issues and their effects. “Hilar las venas”, was produced in Guatemala by the collective Lemow and directed by Verónica Sacalxot. This production addresses the issue of sexualities as seen from the communities.  “Nuevas Ropas, Viejos Hilos” delves into El Salvador’s political regime, though its creators remain anonymous for safety reasons.

Sacalxot emphasized that her production weaves stories through the words of Dominga, Carmelita, Yolanda, Bartolomé, and Miguelito, intertwining the colors of life, connecting us with the weaving hands of our ancestors. She underscored the importance of understanding Guatemala’s communities; indigenous filmmakers and women narrate stories from the community perspective. “There is both satisfaction and a commitment to conduct community screenings, taking these stories to different territories where access to local productions is challenging,” she noted. This production shatters stereotypes and conservatisms, particularly those influenced by religion. The characters hail from an indigenous community in Sololá.

A meticulous research process was undertaken out of respect for the characters and their community. A private screening was held exclusively for the protagonists to witness their story, Verónica explained. “Nuevas Ropas, Viejos Hilos” narrates repression, abuse of power, and violence.

The production intertwines the past with the present, shedding light on Nayib Bukele’s dictatorial government in El Salvador. The country grapples with oppression and persecution against those brave enough to denounce the injustices and contradictions of the current administration. Bukele has skillfully presented his actions in El Salvador, justifying the reduction of gang members on the streets, but he fails to acknowledge the over five thousand people who have gone missing since his regime began. The video portrays mothers, wives, daughters, and entire families searching for a loved one outside a prison. Innocent individuals have been unjustly detained. The government persists in suppressing freedom of speech, leading several journalists, content creators, and activists to flee the country. This proposal aims to spotlight these pressing issues.

New Narratives

Both audiovisual productions were presented in Xela. Analysts and filmmakers participated, discussing how the situations in the two countries mirror each other, and how governments have failed to counteract these issues Among the commentators was Anny Puac, who reflected, “How can we mobilize civic passions against practices considered intolerable without assuming a horizon of satisfaction?” In other words, these actions should not be temporary, she commented.

One of the lessons from these valuable exercises is the destruction of metaphorical meaning, amplified by the centrality of technologies, as these creations have contributed to reducing vision to mere sight.

Puac questioned, “What is the place of sexuality, diversity, and gender identity within historical archives and, above all, within police archives that safeguard decades of state violence? What does the current criminalization and stigmatization of the past reveal about the territories and post-war societies we live in and within which we are surviving in the present? “The role of us, the governed, is to be offended and to instill passion in each of our actions. A phrase that could help prevent activism from assuming a purely theatrical role of ‘pure indignation.’ So, what can we do? Here is the answer: turn what is happening into a political action, making the misfortunes of those  affected visible and audible through specific techniques and policies,” she expressed.

To conclude her commentary, she poses the questions, “How do we teach new narratives outside the canons of liberalism and the West?” These audible and visible creations must serve as tools to show, for example, that a reform is nothing more than the result of a process involving conflict, confrontation, struggle, and resistance. Thus, these situations should emerge as visible and essential conflicts, not mere clashes of interest or institutional blockages.

They should demonstrate that these situations should give rise to a new balance of power, where societies perceive reform as merely a temporary profile (reformbeing just one example), she concluded.