Main content

The Man We Called Juan Carlos

The Man We Called Juan Carlos

Wenceslao Armira, the man we called 'Juan Carlos,' was a farmer, teacher, guerilla, priest - and father of two children murdered by death squads.

This film is the extraordinary story of an 'ordinary' Mayan from the highlands of Guatemala, who, in unexpected ways, affected the lives of the filmmakers for over 25 years, as they recorded his life. A very personal story, it explores the intersection of disparate lives, North and South, through coincidence and timing, across borders, and history. The life of 'Juan Carlos' raises difficult questions about all of our connection to human rights, and social justice, and how we choose to make a difference in the world.

'This sophisticated, troubling film raises important questions about human rights, the personal price of refusing to assent to evil and the responsibility of the 'objective' journalist who bears witness at somebody else's cost.' Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun

'It avoids all exaggerations and puts the emphasis clearly on the ongoing determination of a courageous man who did what he thought was just.' Ed Broadbent, former president of the International Center for Human Rights

'A haunting documentary that chronicles two decades in the life of Wenceslao Armira, an ordinary Mayan who paid a horrible price for human rights. The film provokes viewers to look at life's ethical and moral choices, social justice - its cost and consequences.' Cindy Harnet, Times Colonist

'Perhaps for her Western audience, this is where the film will resonate the most-and serve its greatest purpose. As MacAndrew questions her own privilege, she asks the viewer to do the same...While the justification for war has changed from anti-Communism to anti-terrorism, the underlying desire for economic gain and control has not. As Wenceslao Armira teaches us, let us not sit complacently by.' Jennifer Morley, YES! Magazine

'Engrossing...the film raises many difficult issues, including the role of U.S. foreign policy in Guatemala, the individual's responsibility to fight for human rights and social justice no matter the cost, and the obligations of the 'objective' journalist. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.' Library Journal


Main credits

MacAndrew, Heather (screenwriter)
MacAndrew, Heather (narrator)
MacAndrew, Heather (film director)
MacAndrew, Heather (film producer)
Springbett, David (film director)
Springbett, David (film producer)

Other credits

Music, Bruce Cockburn; editors, Barton Hewett [and 4 others]; camera, Bill Weaver [and 5 others].

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Central America/The Caribbean
Developing World
Human Rights
Indigenous Peoples
International Studies
Latin American Studies
Media Literacy
Social Justice
Social Psychology


juan carlos, Guatemala, latin america, indigenous peoples, central america, war, Mayans, social justice, life choices, guerillas, human rights, Wenceslao Armira; "The Man We Called Juan Carlos"; Bullfrog Films