Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj
Anthropologist, Journalist, Activist & Protagonist in "500 YEARS"
Irma Alicia Nimatuj is a journalist, social anthropologist, and international spokeswoman. She has been at the forefront of struggles for respect for indigenous cultures. She was Executive Director of the Mecanismo de Apoyo a Pueblos Indígenas Oxlajuj Tzikin (Support Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples) (2005-2013). Dr. Velásquez Nimatuj is the first Maya-K’iche’ woman to earn a doctorate in Social Anthropology and she initiated the court case that made racial discrimination illegal in Guatemala. She has won numerous academic fellowships and awards for her journalism. She was a member of the Latin American Consulting Group of Indigenous Leaders for UNICEF and participates in the UN through the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
She also served as advisor on indigenous issues for the Latin American and Caribbean office of UN Women (2014-2015). She is the author of “Pueblos Indígenas, Estado y Lucha por Tierra en Guatemala” (2008) and “La pequeña burguesía indígena comercial de Guatemala: Desigualdades de clase, raza y género” (2002). She writes a weekly newspaper column in “El Periódico de Guatemala” and through both her political and academic efforts seeks to create viable and realistic ways to create equality for indigenous people and a truly participatory democracy in Guatemala.
Andrea Ixchíu Hernández
Human Rights Media Activist, Community Organizer, Protagonist in "500 YEARS"
Andrea Ixchíu is Maya K’iche’ leader, journalist, law student, human rights activist, and a self-professed geek with an expertise in internet security. She was the youngest woman elected as a tribal leader in her highland community, where as President of the Natural Resources Board, she was in charge of protecting their ancient communal forest of Totonicapán from extractive industry incursions. While completing her law degree, Andrea developed a national following while writing a weekly column for one of Guatemala’s leading newspapers, “El Periódico” where she focused on issues of national policy, and analysis of the art, culture, nature and human rights of indigenous peoples.
She also creates a news program from a next gen indigenous perspective as a member of alternative online networks, Red Tz’ikin and Prensa Comunitaria.
Andrea is a Nobel Women’s Initiative Fellow and was awarded the Sakharov Prize, which honors individuals and groups of people who have dedicated their lives to the defense of human rights and freedom of thought.
Indigenous & Women Rights Activist, Singer-songwriter
Sara Curruchich is a Mayan Kakchiquel singer and composer who is an activist in defense of the rights of women and indigenous peoples of Guatemala. Known especially for her song “Resist”, Sara studied at the Normal School for Music Teachers, Jesús María Alvarado, and plays marimba and guitar in addition to composing and singing. In her songs, she mixes Spanish with the Kakchiquel language, a way of reclaiming her mother tongue.
Sara’s first individual public performance was in 2012, an invitation from the Orchestra of Germany. In 2016 she held first tour in the United States performing at Bizarre Bushwick in Brooklyn and offering a concert at the United Nations headquarters in New York as part of the Permanent Forum sessions for Indigenous Issues. She is also a contributor to UN Women Guatemala. In January 2017, she presented Ralk’wal Ulew, -Sons of the Earth- accompanied with a video clip made by Skylight Creative Director Pamela Yates whom she met in New York in 2016. The song accompanies Skylight’s latest film 500 YEARS. The song is born from the mobilizations that have taken place throughout history, from the indigenous peoples and those that led to the resignation of Otto Pérez Molina and against corruption in Guatemala.
Filmmaker / Co-founder & Creative Director at Skylight
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.
Editor / Editorial Director and co-founder at Skylight
Peter Kinoy is a co-founder of Skylight and has worked as both a Producer and Editor. Together with Pamela Yates and Paco de Onís, the three conceive of, develop, produce and post-produce the documentary films and creative outreach materials of Skylight.
Peter’s editorial work includes Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, Rebel Citizen, Disruption, State of Fear, and The Reckoning. With Pamela Yates he also co-produced and edited the trilogy Living Broke in Boom Times about the rising poor people’s movement in the U.S in the 1990s. The trilogy of films includes Takeover; (Official selection Sundance ‘91/PBS / POV) Poverty Outlaw; (Sundance ‘97/PBS); and the ITVS/PBS presentation Outriders (2000). Peter created the Media College of the University of the Poor to continue these efforts.
Paco de Onís
Producer / Executive Director at Skylight
Paco de Onís grew up in several Latin American countries during a time of dictatorships.
He is the Executive Director of Skylight, a human rights media organization dedicated to advancing social justice through storytelling, by creating documentary films and innovative media tools applied in long-term strategies for positive social change. One of these long-term strategies is Skylight SolidariLabs, a program designed to disseminate Skylight’s innovative model for creating human rights media ecosystems in conjunction with committed media makers, artists, technologists and movement organizations, with the aim of building enduring networks of 21st century human rights practitioners.
Paco’s film producing credits include Granito: How to Nail a Dictator, Rebel Citizen, Disruption, State of Fear, and The Reckoning.
Producer, The Resistance Saga
Michael Premo is an artist, journalist and filmmaker. He is co-founder and Executive Producer at Storyline, a production company building power with story and strategy. Michael has created original film, theater and radio with numerous companies including Hip-Hop Theater Festival, The Foundry Theater, The Civilians, and the Peabody Award winning StoryCorps. Michael’s photography has appeared in publications like The Village Voice, and The New York Times, among others. Recent projects with Storyline include the multi-platform project 28th Amendment: Housing is a Human Right, the participatory documentary Sandy Storyline, and award-winning short film and exhibit Water Warriors. He consults on participatory documentary processes, impact strategy, and civic engagement through Storyline and the Interaction Institute for Social Change. A recent highlight of that work includes working as an impact producer for the film This Changes Everything by Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein. He is on the Board of Trustees of A Blade of Grass and The Center for Story-based Strategy.
Assistant Producer, The Resistance Saga
Aja is a former Skylight Digital Communications intern and now joins the team as the Assistant Producer of the Resistance Saga tour. Aja graduated from NYU in 2016 where she studied neuroscience and documentary film. She is driven by an interest in understanding how perspectives can be shaped by the messages received through media. She has produced a variety of short films focusing on projects that have the potential to spark new ideas and conversations.
Ximena Amescua Cuenca
Communications & Marketing Manager at Skylight
Ximena is the Communications & Marketing Manager at Skylight. Before joining Skylight in 2017, Ximena worked as an Executive Coordinator at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. She moved to New York from Mexico City to complete a graduate certificate in Culture and Media and a Masters in Cinema Studies at NYU. Her short-documentary, Juanita, premiered at the 2015 Margaret Mead Film Festival and was nominated for the 2016 SIMA Awards in Los Angeles.