Maria’s Story

Institute History

  • 1991 Sundance Film Festival


Maria's Story provides the viewer a rare, behind-the-lines look at the life of a guerrilla leader. Maria Serrano—Salvadoran peas-ant, wife, mother and guerrilla leader—is a thirty-nine-year-old woman whose life has been shaped by poverty and eleven years of civil war. The film is also a slice of the historic moment in
which she and the people of El Salvador are living.

Against a background of mortar fire and helicopter surveillance, the film opens as Maria and her companeros prepare for a major offensive against the aimed forces of El Salvador. We follow Maria as she faces challenges, responsibilities, victories and defeats as a member of the FLMN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front), which has engaged in civil war with the national government for over a decade. We also meet Maria's family—her husband Jose, and her two daughters, Minita and Morena—all of whom are involved in the struggle.

Maria's Story is about one woman's decision to join rebel forces, beginning with the events that led to the family fleeing their home ten years ago. "If someone would have told me ten years ago that one day I would he sitting and planning military strategy or even carrying a gun, I would have never believed it. . if you adopt the armed struggle, it's because you have no other choice . . . when you see the possibility of saving your life, you save it, and if that means picking up a gun, then you pick it up!" Made under difficult and sometimes very dangerous circumstances, this stirring, inspiring portrait of one woman also pays implicit tribute to its filmmakers' courage.

— Robert Hawk

Screening Details

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