Discovering Dominga

Produced by: Patricia Flynn, Mary Jo McConahay

57 min. Color. 2002.

Captioned: Yes

Catalog #: 0088

Price: $295.00

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Product Description

This unforgettably dramatic and powerful documentary relates the extraordinary story of a young Iowa housewife who discovers she is a survivor of one of the most horrific massacres in Guatemalan history, committed in 1982 against Maya Indian villagers who resisted a dam project funded by the World Bank. The film follows her remarkable journey of transformation and discovery as she returns to Guatemala in search of her heritage and ultimately joins efforts to bring the perpetrators of the massacre to justice and to promote peace and reconciliation in her native country.

Dominga Sic Ruiz was nine years old when, during the bloody Guatemalan civil war, she escaped while paramilitary and army forces murdered her mother and 76 other women and 107 children in the Maya village of Rio Negro. She was eventually adopted and grew up in small-town America, where she became a “normal” teenager named Denese and later married. She buried her past so deeply it became transformed in adulthood into doubts and nightmares, until events brought her to face the truth.

Beautifully photographed in Iowa and amid the stunning landscapes of the Guatemalan highlands, the film follows her emotional reconnection with lost relatives, with a rich indigenous culture, and with the violent history in which her beloved adopted country — the United States — played a sinister role. Dominga joins the Maya community in the dangerous effort to demand the exhumation of a clandestine mass grave, and later provides testimony in a landmark genocide case, thus becoming part of a global grassroots struggle for justice and human rights.

“Discovering Dominga” is a compelling and inspiring story that will engage student interest and provoke reflection and discussion in a wide variety of courses in Latin American studies, cultural anthropology, Third World studies, human rights, women’s studies, American history and studies, and sociology. It was produced and directed by Patricia Flynn and co-produced by Mary Jo McConahay for the Independent Television Service (ITVS) in association with KQED with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.