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The Man We Called Juan Carlos

Chronicles the violent history of Guatemala and life of Wenceslao Armira, a Mayan father, farmer, teacher, guerilla, priest and champion of human rights.

A printer-friendly version of this page 52 minutes
Closed Captioned

Directed by Heather MacAndrew and David Springbett
Produced by Asterisk Productions Ltd.
Music by Bruce Cockburn

Wenceslao Armira, the man we called "Juan Carlos," was a farmer, teacher, guerilla, priest - and father of two children murdered by death squads.

This film is the extraordinary story of an 'ordinary' Mayan from the highlands of Guatemala, who, in unexpected ways, affected the lives of the filmmakers for over 25 years, as they recorded his life. A very personal story, it explores the intersection of disparate lives, North and South, through coincidence and timing, across borders, and history. The life of "Juan Carlos" raises difficult questions about all of our connection to human rights, and social justice, and how we choose to make a difference in the world.

Grade Level: Grades 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2001     Copyright Date: 2000
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-404-4     VHS ISBN: 1-56029-893-6

"This sophisticated, troubling film raises important questions about human rights, the personal price of refusing to assent to evil and the responsibility of the 'objective' journalist who bears witness at somebody else's cost."
Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun

"It avoids all exaggerations and puts the emphasis clearly on the ongoing determination of a courageous man who did what he thought was just."
Ed Broadbent, former president of the International Center for Human Rights

"A haunting documentary that chronicles two decades in the life of Wenceslao Armira, an ordinary Mayan who paid a horrible price for human rights. The film provokes viewers to look at life's ethical and moral choices, social justice - its cost and consequences."
Cindy Harnet, Times Colonist

"Perhaps for her Western audience, this is where the film will resonate the most-and serve its greatest purpose. As MacAndrew questions her own privilege, she asks the viewer to do the same...While the justification for war has changed from anti-Communism to anti-terrorism, the underlying desire for economic gain and control has not. As Wenceslao Armira teaches us, let us not sit complacently by."
Jennifer Morley, YES! Magazine

"Engrossing...the film raises many difficult issues, including the role of U.S. foreign policy in Guatemala, the individual's responsibility to fight for human rights and social justice no matter the cost, and the obligations of the 'objective' journalist. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries."
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The Man We Called Juan Carlos

"This sophisticated, troubling film raises important questions about human rights." Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun

Awards and Festivals
Silver Chris Award, Columbus International Film Festival
Award of Commendation, American Anthropological Association Conference
Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival
Global Visions Film Festival
Latin American Environmental Media Festival, Tulane University

Central America/The Caribbean
Developing World
Human Rights
Indigenous Peoples
International Studies
Latin American Studies
Media Literacy
Social Justice
Social Psychology

Related Titles

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Guatemalan war widows fighting for human rights.

A Tribe of His Own
Indian journalist reminds us of the meaning of responsible journalism.

Examines prospects for Vitamin A distribution programs in Guatemala and Ghana necessary for children's health.

Borderline Cases
The environmental impact of the 2,000 factories (maquiladoras) on the US-Mexico border.

Bolivian Blues
Explores the success of new initiative to reduce widespread poverty.

Impressionistic look reveals the reality of daily life in Haiti.

At the End of a Gun
The devastating effect that the civil war in Sri Lanka is having on women.

The confrontation between the Mohawk Nation and the Canadian Government at the Mercier Bridge.

The Golf War
Globalization comes to a Philippine seaside community, which has to defend its ancestral lands against golf course development.

Cultivating Opportunity
Hard-pressed farmers in the southeast US and in Mozambique find co-ops work.

Exposé of the horrifying results of the 1996 immigration law.

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