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Sundance Documentary ‘500 Years’ Gets Summer Release Date (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety logo Variety 6/5/2017 Dave McNary
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Paladin has bought U.S. theatrical rights to Pamela Yates’ Guatemalan political documentary “500 Years,” which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

“500 Years” will have its U.S. theatrical premiere on July 12 at New York’s IFC Center, followed by a release in select cities. Timed to coincide with awards season, the film will also be available to stream later this year exclusively on Amazon Prime Video as part of  “Film Festival Stars.”

“500 Years” is the third and final installment in the filmmaker’s trilogy “The Resistance Saga,” which also includes Yates’ “When the Mountains Tremble” (1982) and “Granito: How to Nail a Dictator” (2011).

The trilogy will be presented June 11 at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Yates will attend along with producer Paco de Onís, Guatemalan activist Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj and Mayan singer Sara Curruchich.

“500 Years” is set between 2013 and 2016 and includes the genocide trial of former dictator General Ríos Montt, in which footage from “When the Mountains Tremble” is used as evidence by the prosecution. The trial results in the conviction of Montt, but the verdict is overturned, a citizens’ uprising ultimately topples the presidency of Otto Pérez Molina.

The deal was negotiated by Mark Urman, president of Paladin, and producer Paco de Onís for Skylight.

“500 Years is both inspirational and indispensable in showing how people who share a common cause can effect change, proving that, under the right circumstances, right makes might,” Urman said. “Pamela is a consummate storyteller who succeeds in making history visually engaging, dramatically enthralling and, most importantly, utterly universal. We know that American audiences want — and need — to see this film, and we are thrilled to be bringing it to theaters.”

“500 Years” has received standing ovations at Sundance, the Full Frame and Ashland Independent Film Festivals, where Mayan activists Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj and Andrea Ixchíu have appeared.

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