On April 5th, the Museum of Jewish Heritage hosted an advance screening of the new film Finding Oscar, which follows the search for a young man who survived a massacre in Dos Erres, Guatemala. The theatre at the Museum was beautiful and intimate, and a considerable portion of the audience were members who heard about the event from the museum’s email.
Picture Motion helped organized the event, working with the Museum, FilmRise and director Ryan Suffern to bring together the amazing panel of speakers. Picture Motion also reached out to organizations in New York to invite them to this special advance screening ahead of the film’s New York premiere.
Before the start of the event, one man said that, despite the film not being about a Jewish story or issue, he was compelled to attend because of the story. Some other audience members noted that the film’s themes were universal, despite the unique context of Guatemala’s political history. The audience was clearly very moved, most of us were in tears when the lights came on. People cheered loudly when reading the cards at the end of the film with updates about the trials. The audience was not expecting to see the film subject, Oscar Ramírez Castañeda, which was a wonderful surprise; everyone was very honored he was able to attend.
After the screening, we had a very thought-provoking panel and Q&A. It was clear that the larger themes in the film really resonated with this audience and made them reflect on the current political climate. It was a very well-informed audience with questions about cases of 43 disappeared students in Mexico to the Syrian refugee crisis. Kate Doyle, Director of the National Security Archive, did a wonderful job as moderator and panelist; she fielded those policy-heavy questions and then posing follow-up questions to the other panelists herself.
The audience loved hearing Oscar speak about his newfound family and the close relationship he still maintains with the family he grew up with. Scott Greathead, Oscar’s lawyer and co-founder of Human Rights First, provided a lot of insight into similar cases in other parts of Central and South America. Fredy Peccerelli, Director of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation (FAFG), spoke about his unique experience as a Guatemalan-American working on these cases. At the close, Director Ryan Suffern spoke beautifully about how difficult it was was to get the film funded and how important it was that the audience act as ambassadors of the film and spread the word of its upcoming release.
This event was a dream for us at Picture Motion. We organize screenings like this precisely because we want to make sure this film reaches as many people as possible. Having Oscar present was the obvious highlight of the night but to have so many people from the film in the same room truly felt like an extension of the film itself. We heard many conversations between audience members about how relevant this film was since the election and how important it was to understand the United States’ role in the former Guatemalan dictator’s regime. People definitely seemed to walk away wanting to share about Oscar’s incredible story. We hope that the evening inspired them to urge their friends and families to go see the film in theatres.
You can watch the trailer and learn more here.
By Kibret Yebetit: Impact Campaign Coordinator
Primarily focusing on Impact Distribution, Kibret comes to Picture Motion from the non-profit world. She previously worked in communication and outreach work for a range of human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, WITNESS and Bike New York. At WITNESS she worked directly with citizen journalists, aiding them in using the platform for their work, as well as served as the official YouTube Channel Curator, where she was responsible for finding, verifying and sourcing videos posted by citizen journalists around the world. Kibret also spent time working in video and documentary production. She worked as a Production Assistant for Four Corners Media where she contributed on documentary films for Al Jazeera America. Her work has always tried to address human rights and social justice issues through film and she’s excited to help powerful stories get told with Picture Motion. She’s also super smart as she earned a BA in Human Rights and Political Science from Barnard College. The issues she is most active in are Women’s Rights and Immigrant Rights. Kibret is a Queens native and an obsessive “Another Round” podcast listener!