GRANITO: HOW TO NAIL A DICTATOR (Pamela Yates). 103 minutes. Some subtitles. Screens Wednesday (December 7) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox as part of Doc Soup. See Indie & Rep Film. Rating: NN
You don't often come across sequels to documentaries, but Pamela Yates has made Granito: How To Nail A Dictator as a follow-up to her 1982 doc When The Mountains Tremble.
The original guerrilla doc covered the bloody conflict between Mayan peasants and the Guatemalan militia that resulted in genocide. More than two decades later, prosecuting attorney Almudena Bernabeu, who's mounting a case against the Guatemalan dictator responsible for 200,000 deaths, approaches Yates for evidence she may have caught on film, in the final cut and outtakes.
That gives the director the opportunity to dust off her old 16mm reels for a new film about the investigation into the genocide and the role her old doc gets to play.
Granito verges on being a meta-cinema case study: a documentary about the practical purposes a documentary can serve. Unfortunately, it rarely stays that complex, instead becoming a vanity project in which the filmmaker makes herself a subject.
Some compelling characters remain on the periphery, like the victims who become human rights activists and the anthropologists who dig up the 20-year-old remains of the disappeared. Granito is so scattershot and unfocused that it fails to do justice to these important people.