Pamela Yates is the Co-founder and Creative Director of Skylight, a non-profit company dedicated to creating feature length documentary films and digital media tools that advance awareness of human rights and the quest for justice by implementing multi-year outreach campaigns designed to engage, educate and activate social change.

She is the Director of the Sundance Special Jury award winning When the Mountains Tremble; the Executive Producer of the Academy Award winning Witness to War; and the Director of State of Fear: The Truth About Terrorism, which has been translated into 47 languages and broadcast in 154 countries. Her third film in the Guatemalan trilogy, 500 YEARS had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and is currently in wide release.

Pamela Yates, Director

Pamela Yates is the Co-founder and Creative Director of Skylight, a non-profit company dedicated to creating feature length documentary films and digital media tools that advance awareness of human rights and the quest for justice by implementing multi-year outreach campaigns designed to engage, educate and activate social change.

She is the Director of the Sundance Special Jury award winning When the Mountains Tremble; the Executive Producer of the Academy Award winning Witness to War; and the Director of State of Fear: The Truth About Terrorism, which has been translated into 47 languages and broadcast in 154 countries. Her film Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, for which she awarded a Guggenheim fellowship, was used as key forensic evidence in the genocide trial against Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala. Her third film in the Guatemalan trilogy, 500 YEARS had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and is currently in wide release.

Yates is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Writers Guild of America, and the International Documentary Association.

Films by Pamela Yates

When the Mountains Tremble

When the Mountains Tremble (1982) introduced indigenous rights leader Rigoberta Menchú as the storyteller in her role to expose repression during Guatemala’s brutal armed conflict. Winner of the Special Jury Award at Sundance, the film was seen worldwide and translated into 10 languages. It helped put Menchú on the world stage and 10 years later she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

500 YEARS

500 YEARS tells the epic story that led Guatemala to a tipping point in their history from the genocide trial of former dictator General Rios Montt to the popular movement that toppled sitting President Otto Perez Molina. Focusing on universal themes of justice, racism, power and corruption, 500 YEARS tells the story from the perspective of the majority indigenous Mayan population, and their struggles in their country’s growing fight against impunity.

This is the third chapter of the trilogy of documentaries on Guatemala, led by Pamela Yates, and follows the films When the Mountains Tremble (1983) and Granito: How to Nail a Dictator (2011). The documentary film had its world premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

Rebel Citizen

Pamela Yates’ documentary REBEL CITIZEN takes you on a revelatory tour of two time Oscar winning cinematographer Haskell Wexler’s political documentary work, letting the veteran artist and activist share his vision of how to be a citizen in the world. Created for the Cinéma du Réel festival in Paris, the film was selected for the New York Film Festival in a surprise development and had its world premiere October 6th 2015.

Mother Tongue

MOTHER TONGUE chronicles the first time a documentary film about Guatemalan genocide was translated and dubbed into the indigenous language Maya-Ixil. Told from the perspective of Matilde Terraza, an emerging Ixil leader and the translation project’s coordinator, MOTHER TONGUE illuminates the resilience of the Ixil community—5.5% of whom were killed during the armed conflict in the 1980s.

Disruption

A band of Latin American activist economists sets out to change their region, partnering with women marginalized by poverty to challenge accepted notions on how to eradicate inequality. Through this program, the women become empowered economic and political agents in their communities. If the model is taken to scale, could 20 million women upend a continent?

Dictator in the Dock

Skylight's newest release, Dictator in the Dock is a 23-episode short film series (5 to 7 minutes per episode) that includes exclusive access to an online educational hub.

The Reckoning

A David and Goliath battle of titanic proportions unfolds as International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo faces down warlords, genocidal dictators and world superpowers in his struggle to tame the Wild West of global conflict zones and bring perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice. 

Granito

In a startling loop of time and memory, "Granito" shows how a filmmaker's first documentary has been instrumental to indict Guatemalan ex-dictator Ríos Montt on genocide charges. 

Living Broke in Boom Times

In 1989, Skylight Pictures began to document poor Americans fighting to end poverty. They made three films about it. Three activists who were there now look back at condensed versions of those films and share the lessons they learned.

 

State of Fear

How can an open society balance demands for security with democracy? Based on the findings of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, State of Fear follows events in Peru, yet serves as a cautionary tale for a nation like the United States. Filmmakers Pamela Yates, Peter Kinoy, and Paco de Onis masterfully blend personal testimony, history and archival footage to tell the story of escalating violence in the Andean nation and how the fear of terror undermined their democracy, making Peru a virtual dictatorship where official corruption replaced the rule of law. Terrorist attacks by Shining Path insurgents provoked a military occupation of the countryside. Military justice replaced civil authority, widespread abuses by the Peruvian Army went unpunished, and the terrorism continued to spread. Nearly 70,000 civilians eventually died at the hands of Shining Path and the Peruvian military.