For his documentary, FINDING OSCAR, Ryan Suffern started at the end, filming what would be almost the last shot of the story before realizing what a compelling, and timely, piece of history he was witnessing. We talked about that during our conversation on April 20, 2017, but the first thing I asked him about was the way he had put a global context on an incident in tiny village in Guatemala. The incident was the massacre of everyone in that village by a government military squad, with the exception of two little boys, one of whom was, and is, Oscar Ramirez.
We went on to talk about how the film has stayed the same, but current events have brought different issues in it to the fore; the unexpected effects of United States foreign policy; what is and isn’t taught in Guatemala’s schools.
We went on to talk about how The Shoah Foundation’s involvement was key to getting the film made; how he faced his first exhumation on his second day in Guatemala; and why people obsessed with murder and violence.
We finished up with why he thought that two perpetrators of the massacre were willing to be interviewed by him, and what we need to address as a people in order to prevent genocide from ever happening again anywhere.
FINDING OSCAR is his documentary about the best and worst of human nature by focusing on the title character, who as a child was one of only two survivors of the 1982 Dos Erres Massacre in Guatemala.Carried out by the military, it spurred a dedicated group of activists, lawyers, and scientists to find justice and truth for the victims. The case turned on finding those survivors, and Suffern’s film tells that story from several points of view, including the perpetrators. What unfolds is a mystery that took decades to solve, and an ending that will touch your heart as well as making you want to storm a rampart. Suffern’s previous work includes THE SILENT WORLD OF HECTOR MANN and OUT & AROUND.