We recently launched our Texting Peace initiative in Guatemala. We will launch our text-messaging campaign in the United States in April 2012.

The project has two phases. The first phase allows our audiences to subscribe to our service and receive news, tips, updates, and inspirational quotes on how to prevent violence. Our operators will send a message to all who have registered to our service once or twice a month.

The second phase allows women to communicate directly with our team via text messaging for a referral or advice. When a woman wishes to report threats or harassment, or is in need of emotional support or a reference, she can send an SMS message to our service. An operator will then answer with information, responding to every situation accordingly.

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Adela, 27, left home for work one day and never returned. Her ex-boyfriend beat her until she was unrecognizable and left her at the side of the road. Her story is all too familiar in Guatemala, where 6,000 women have been murdered in the last decade. Only 2% of those killers have been sentenced. Adela's sister Rebeca, 34, is determined to see that Adela's killer is held accountable. She makes tortillas at home and sells them in order to raise her five children, as well as the three children Adela left behind.

The challenges Rebeca encounters in her search for justice are illustrative of the thousands of other cases like this one in Guatemala. However, her willingness to practically take on the role of investigator while she is still mourning is exceptional. She encounters many setbacks during her three-year battle: a missing police report, a judge accused of killing his own wife, and witnesses who are too afraid to testify. Completely transformed by her struggle, Rebeca emerges as a feminist leader in her rural community with a message for others: justice is possible.

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Kimberly BautistaKimberly Bautista

Director, Producer, Writer, Cinematographer, Co-Editor.

Kimberly Bautista is a Los Angeles-based Colombian and Irish-American filmmaker. She was a Princess Grace Award recipient in 2008 and a Latino Producers Academy Fellow in 2010. She was also the recipient of the prestigious yearlong Latino Artists Mentorship from the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) in 2010. Kimberly’s debut feature-length documentary film, JUSTICE FOR MY SISTER, was a finalist for the 2010 HBO-NALIP Documentary Cash Award in its rough cut state.

In 2006, Kimberly founded and directed the Intercultural Web Exchange, a video pen-pal web program between young women in Quito, Ecuador and young Chicana women in Pomona, California. The project lasted over three years and culminated in a college prep opportunity for the participants. She has been doing media arts work in Guatemala since 2008, looking at the effects of the 36-year internal conflict. Kimberly holds a Master’s in Social Documentation from UC Santa Cruz.

 

Michael FloresMichael Flores

Editor

Michael Flores, a Los Angeles-based Latino editor, is a previous Film Independent Program Fellow, a recipient of the Rodolfo Montes Memorial Scholarship, and a recipient of the National Hispanic Foundation For the Arts Entertainment Scholarship. His editing credits include The Cost of Living (2008 Student Emmy-winning television pilot), The Courtyard (2007), The Girls in the Band, and What On Earth?(2009). He was Assistant Editor on Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (Official Selection of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival). Most recently, he edited Nick Broomfield’s documentary about Sarah Palin. Michael holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Cinema-Television Production from USC.

Juan Mejia Botero

Juan Mejia Botero

Cinematographer

Juan Mejia Botero is a Colombian documentary filmmaker currently based in Bogotá, Colombia. His work includes Merging Voices: The Youth of El Salvador Speak, the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship-funded A Través de Estos Ojos (Through These Eyes), and the award-winning documentary film about Afrocolombian displacement, Uprooted. Juan is currently working on his next documentary feature, The Battle for Land. He holds a Master’s Degree in Social Documentation from University of California, Santa Cruz in film production.

Cast: The Family

Rebeca Eunice Perez

Rebeca Eunice Perez

Rebeca is four years Adela’s senior. She is a single mother of five and has accepted Adela’s three children as her own as well. She helps her mother with their home-based tortilla business and struggles to make ends meet. After a 9-hour shift of making tortillas and caring for the children at home, she pounds the pavement to make things happen for Adela’s murder case on almost a daily basis. She has countless setbacks along the way, but that only fortifies her fight and keeps her going. She is able to transform her pain into a collective healing process and emerges as a feminist leader in her community.

Adela Chacon Tax

She was murdered in 2007 by an ex-boyfriend at the age of 27 after working at a local restaurant/bar for only a week. Her death is the instigating incident of the story. She was the mother of three and dearly loved by her children, mother, nieces, sisters, neighbors and friends for her bold, jokester attitude. Her absence/presence is felt throughout the film during shots of the city at night, her empty bedroom, the clapping of tortillas, and smoke in the kitchen. The family has very few pictures of her, but she remains present during moments of silence and rhythmic clapping.

Mamita

Adela’s mother can’t forgive herself for allowing her daughter to leave that fateful morning for work. Mamita is an elderly, hardworking woman. She sells tortillas in the open-air market after she makes the early-morning batch. She has gotten ill as a result of her daughter’s violent death and easily breaks into tears.

Rebequita AzucenaRebequita Azucena

Adela’s oldest daughter was ten when her mother was killed; by the end of the film she is thriteen. Rebequita, an exceptionally beautiful child, attempts to be the strong one for her siblings and tries to compensate for her mother’s death. Her testimony is crucial in the trial because she identifies Ricardo as the man that used to harass and threaten her mother. She later becomes the target of a drive-by shooting

Angel

Adela’s second child was six when his mother was killed and by the end of the film he is nine. He is a rambunctious child who acts out to get attention. He tends to fight with other children, refuses to go to school, and throws fits from time to time. He longs her hear his mother’s voice again.

Dania

Adela’s youngest child was just barely a year old when Adela was killed. By the end of the film she is four years old. Dania remembers only what people have told her about Adela.

Cata

The oldest of the four sisters, Cata helps watch the children and takes over the tortilla business from time to time when Rebeca needs to make the rounds.

Aura

The second oldest of the four sisters, Aura helps take the burden off Rebeca as well when she can. She does not go to the cemetery for Day of the Dead because it’s too difficult for her to see Adela’s grave.

Cast: Other

Ricardo Antonio Merlos CojulumRicardo Antonio Merlos Cojulum

30 years old. He was once Adela’s boyfriend. He used to work as a bus attendant but ends up in jail as a suspect of Adela’s murder. He insists he is innocent.

Dina Donis

She is Ricardo’s young defense lawyer. She is pregnant throughout the court hearings. She too is certain of Ricardo’s innocence and attempts to delegitimize Adela, accusing her of drinking alcohol.

Rotman PerezRotman Perez

The lawyer from the foundation that attends to Rebeca and her case. He breaks the news to her that the initial trial date is suspended due to the fact that the judge who was supposed to oversee the trial is accused of killing his wife.

Romeo MonterrosaRomeo Monterrosa

The lawyer from the foundation that represents Rebeca in all the court hearings. He is passionate about seeing to justice in this case, but fears that if the witnesses don’t come to testify, Ricardo might be released.

Edelmira AlvarezEdelmira Alvarez

Adela’s friend who testifies what she knows of the abusive relationship that Adela and Ricardo once had. She gets very emotional when she remembers Adela, who stood up for her when her husband would beat her. She has received threats from Ricardo’s friends on the streets and is fearful of testifying.

Juan DavilaJuan Davila

Key eyewitness who, on his way to work, saw Ricardo leaving the terrain where Adela was found dead. He received threats from Ricardo’s accomplices and relocated to avoid testifying in court.

Amanda

Rebeca’s neighbor who is inspired to open up and tell her own story of being gang-raped and constantly intimidated by the perpetrator for years thereafter. She sees Rebeca as someone she can turn to in the community.

 

Rosario EscobedoRosario “Charito” Escobedo

Social commentator, political activist, and feminist. Rebeca meets Rosario at an activist event in Guatemala City, where she is leading a demonstration on the International Day of Non-Violence against Women.

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Justice for my Sister is the centerpiece of a three-prong holistic campaign that is propelled both by our Guatemalan Collective and our U.S.-based Collective.

1. Visibility: We hold community screenings in schools, universities, women's shelters, women's associations, youth groups, public spaces, municipalities, unions, institutions of the State, and prisons to sensitize audiences to the issue of violence against women.

2. Prevention: We prevent gender-based violence by offering trainings to communities, teachers, and authorities in the justice system. We also prevent violence by way of our mini-campaigns and blast text-messaging with Texting Peace.

3. Intervention/Advocacy: Both in our workshops and by way of our text-messaging campaign, our audiences can ask us for references to report and follow up cases of rape, domestic violence, forced prostitution, economic violence, and other forms of gender-based violence. The members of the Collective and operators of Texting Peace are equipped to provide advice and counseling directly to our audiences. We have strategic alliances with local police and we can also advocate on behalf of our audiences, making phone calls and exercising political pressure on authorities so that they follow-up on cases that are on our radar.

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Awards

 

Awards of Justice For My Sister

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