A San Francisco State University cinema student has received a prestigious award to support his documentary film about a government-sponsored massacre in his home country of Guatemala.
Javier Roberto Carlos Briones, a master’s in fine arts student, is one of just three students nationwide to receive a JustFilms Documentary award from the Princess Grace Foundation.
The film, “The Earth Did Not Speak,” is highly personal. Born in Guatemala, Briones’ parents fled to Chicago when he was just 11 years old to escape persecution for their democratic activism.
He was inspired by his parents’ experience to fight injustice, and found filmmaking as a way to give voice to the powerless. The film details the 1982 government-supported military massacre of 440 people in Rio Negro, Guatemala and tells the stories of the survivors who hid in the mountains and watched as their ancestral homeland was flooded to build a dam.
The filmmaker traveled to Rio Negro last year and interviewed several of the survivors about their lost loved ones and their efforts to rebuild their lives and community, 30 years later.