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by Paco de Onis and Pamela Yates, Peter Kinoy

How to Nail a Dictator

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Part political thriller, part memoir, Yates transports us back in time through a riveting, haunting tale of genocide and returns to the present with a cast of characters joined by destiny and the quest to bring a malevolent dictator to justice.

As if a watchful Maya god were weaving back together threads of a story unraveled by the passage of time, forgotten by most, our characters become integral to the overarching narrative of wrongs done and justice sought that they have pieced together, each adding their granito, their tiny grain of sand, to the epic tale.

In a startling loop of time and memory, "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator”, the astonishing film by Pamela Yates, shows how a filmmaker's first documentary has been instrumental to indict Guatemalan ex-dictator Ríos Montt.

In January 2012, after 30 years of legal impunity, Ríos Montt was indicted by a Guatemalan court for crimes against humanity. He was charged with committing genocide against the Mayan people in the 1980s, becoming the first former head of state to be tried in his own country for genocide.

quoteGranito... doesn't simply relate history; it is also part of history.
Stephen Holden
The New York Times

quoteGRANITO….is contributing significantly to our understanding of the past, the present, and the future of Guatemala, Latin America and the United States.
…It is a work that deserves to thrive in the classrooms of American, Spanish, and Latin American universities.

Dennis West

quotePart courtroom drama, part political thriller and part war movie, Granito: How to Nail A Dictator is one of the most compelling. gripping and inspiring documentaries of the year to date. Watching the film, you feel that you're privy to an insider's experience in furthering the fight for human rights and justice.
Jennifer Merin Documentaries

quote“Granito" more than just a guide to bringing a despot to justice. It is also Ms. Yates’s personal reflection on the purpose and craft of documentary filmmaking, on more than 50 years of tumultuous history in Guatemala, and on how her own views on both those subjects have evolved...the issues Ms. Yates raises...could hardly be more timely.
Larry Rohter
The New York Times

quoteAn engagement with the past that truly puts the ‘document’ in documentary.
Nicolas Rapold
Wall St. Journal

More Reviews


  • Emmy Nomination, Outstanding Investigative Journalism: Long Form, 2013
  • Founders Award, Traverse City Film Festival 2011
  • Best Creative Documentary, Paris International Human Rights Film Festival 2011
  • Peace & Reconciliation Award in Honor of Sergio Vieira de Mello, Geneva International Human Rights Film Festival 2011
  • Official Selection, Documentary Premieres, Sundance Film Festival 2011
  • Opening Night Film, Human Rights Watch International Film Festival 2011
  • Jury Grand Prize, Politics on Film Festival 2011, Washington DC
  • Honorable Mention, Overseas Press Club Award, 2012

Resource Web Sites

appleFacebook Granito page

appleA range of online study resources for Granito are available on the POV website.

The PBS series P.O.V. in conjunction with the filmmakers has provided a range of online study resources, short video Granito Files, with interviews with key charachters in Granito, and a discussion guide available for download here.


Resources to Download

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Visit the official website for Granito


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Appropriate for: Middle School High School College/University

Special Features:

Academic Screening Packages available!  

Includes DVD with licenses, filmmaker screening with Q&A &/or workshops. More information:

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