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If the Mango Tree Could Speak

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This documentary intimately portrays ten boys and girls growing up in the midst of war in Guatemala and El Salvador. The children--ages 12 to 15--talk about war and peace, justice, ethnic identity, friendship and marriage. In a series of touching vignettes, they share their dreams and hopes as well as their pain and loss.

The video opens in the breathtaking Guatemalan highlands, home to the country's Mayan population. DIEGO watches the remains of his father being excavated from a mass grave. He talks about what it's like to live in the same tiny community with the people who killed his father. DORA, whose family is displaced, faces the challenge of maintaining her Mayan identity. SEBASTIAN's village is hidden deep in a remote area where the army and guerrillas are still fighting. He struggles to go to school in spite of the fear and danger.

In San Jos Las Flores, El Salvador, CHICO places a cross on the grave site of his relatives killed in the war, as he talks about punishment for those responsible. YESENIA and ANA collect wood, discuss their friends and birthday presents, and recount the days spent hiding in a trench during the war. We accompany GIOVANI--a war veteran at age 14--to search for his mother among a group of returned refugees. JUAN, who grew up in an orphanage, explains why there was a war and the high price his family paid. The children's stories are disturbing but their resilience toward the harsh reality around them brings hope. Their comments are honest, insightful, and occasionally humorous. More than anything, their spirits are inspiring and their characters unforgettable.

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License Period:  5 years
Running Time:  58:17
Video Resolution:  Appropriate for small screens and projection
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License Period:  14 days (beginning at time of purchase)
Running Time:  58:17
Video Resolution:  Appropriate for small screens and projection
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License Period:  3 days (beginning at time of purchase)
Running Time:  58:17
Video Resolution:  Appropriate for small screens only
"Stunning...only the faces and voices of children, speaking candidly, simply and perceptively about the reality of living in countries under siege."
Linda Matchan, The Boston Globe

"Very moving...Children should not be pawns of war, or victims of war, or soldiers in war... No adult of conscience or faith should be silent about this."
Marian Wright Edelman, Children's Defense Fund

"This moving presentation, also available in Spanish, conveys a deep appreciation of social peace and justice as well as of family, education and friendship."
Nancy McCray, Booklist

"Shows children's strengths in the face of adversity. An excellent contribution to understanding the realities of Central America for both adults and teenagers."
Deborah Menkart, Network of Educators on the Americas

"Clear and compelling...these remarkable children challenge us to work harder for justice and peace not only in Central America, but everywhere there is violence."
Michael Delaney, Oxfam America
Patricia Goudvis  Patricia Goudvis has worked as an independent producer since 1986 and before that as a still photographer, focusing on Central America, especially Guatemala. She received a M.A. degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 1990 and a B.F.A. from the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1976. In addition to making "If the Mango Tree Could Speak" she also produced and directed "Dirty Secrets: Jennifer, Everardo & the CIA in Guatemala" which follows U.S. lawyer Jennifer Harbury's courageous search for her missing husband Everardo -- a Mayan rebel leader -- which unexpectedly reveals the dark legacy of decades of CIA complicity in Guatemalan human rights abuses. Her latest documentary is "Goodbye Baby" which explores the controversy over adoptions from Guatemala. She is the mother of two children adopted from Guatemala and lives in the Boston area, where she is available to speak at screenings of her videos. Her current project (2012) is producing a follow up to If the Mango Tree Could Speak, where she will visit with the original ten "children" -- who are now in their mid 30s -- to see how their early experiences helped shape the adults they are today.

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