The Soul of Guatemala

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Nic Askew has been taking Guatemala by storm with his monday9am.tv in attempt to "capture the soul of Guatemala" as he puts it. According to his introduction, he was offered the chance to capture the soul of Guatemalan presidential candidate, Alejandro Giammattei, and he extended his assignment to the whole country. The reason I bring this up, is to show you this gem of a video.

I'll follow this with analysis of the video, and Nic Askew's whole trip, but if you don't have time for it, just watch the video.  It's worth it.  I think this video of Feliciano Pop is priceless.  Not so much because of the way Nic Askew framed it, but just because the privileged online world needs to see more of people like Pop.
According to this entry, Feliciano Pop is sculptor and former mayor from the beautiful town in the highlands of Guatemala, San Pedro. 

I loved the premise of Nic Askew's video: that we can understand someone without necessarily speaking the language that is coming from their mouths.  I want people to see Pop's video because I think it attempts to intimately connect the audience to someone that they wouldn't think about otherwise.  It is people like Pop that are voiceless in this globe.  This video tries to give him a voice.  That's why I think as many people should see this as possible.  If this video would have been all that came out of Nic Askew's quest to capture the soul of Guatemala, then it was worth it.  Now, you'll have to bare with my while I critically analyze the video and Nic Askew's trip.

While I like the video of Feliciano Pop, I can't help but feel that the way it was edited, took away, rather than added, to the exercise of peering his soul.  Maybe it's just because I understood some of the Spanish that he was speaking, but Nic Askew's words kept cutting in when I wanted to hear Feliciano Pop.  The other complaint I have is that in Nic Askew's other two videos, he makes a point of allowing the audience to understand what the interviewees are saying by putting in English subtitles at key points. 

While I understand what Askew was trying to do with Pop, it just doesn't sit well with me that the meaning of the words of educated white hispanics matter, while the meaning of the words of an indigenous person (all the interviewees were male) don't necessarily matter.  It's fine that he wanted to make the point that about understand Pop without knowing his language, but maybe he should provide a english transcript of his interview with him in order to impart the necessary importance on the meaning of what he was trying to say.

Finally, I'll just state the obvious.  "Capturing the soul of Guatemala" is a pretty patronizing goal.  This is true of every nation on earth.  Still, Guatemala is such a diverse country that he should have stressed further that his was an attempt, bringing him closer to "capturing the soul of Guatemala".  I mean he didn't go anywhere near Livingston, Guatemala, one of my favorite places in the country.  Livingston has a strong Garifuna community, a product of the African diaspora.  That's just one aspect of Guatemala's soul that was completely overlooked.

On the whole I really appreciated Nic Askew's work.  He's provided a positive and complex picture of a country that usually gets portrayed in a negative and simplistic manner in English Media outlets.  Still, he opens himself up for criticism with a goal as large as "capturing the soul of Guatemala" and I don't feel bad about making my views known when that's the way he characterizes it.  Either way, I just wanted to take this opportunity to publicly thank him for his work and to offer my assistance if he needs any help to attempt to capture the soul of Guatemala

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4 Comments

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

I've cross-posted this on Daily Kos and Blue Mass. Group.

great analysis. and i agree. those title cards interrupting felt dramatic, self conscious and filmy, but at the expense of the flow of the performer.

kyledeb Author Profile Page said:

You know it's true if it is coming from a filmmaker. And you also said the word that came to my mind, "performer". It was as if he was put into this role of a "performer" when I don't think that's necessarily a correct role to put him in. But again, I appreciated the premise.

interesting insight. good point.

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This page contains a single entry by kyledeb published on October 15, 2007 1:19 PM.

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