In June 1978, Susan Meiselas traveled to Nicaragua and captured iconic images of the Sandinista insurrection. Her photographs were reproduced widely in news accounts, and one—*Molotov Man*—was used by the FSLN as a symbol of the revolution. In 1981, Meiselas published a selection of her photographs in the volume Nicaragua; a decade later, she returned to the country with the book to track down the subjects of her photographs. The resulting film was Pictures from a Revolution, created with collaborators Alfred Guzzetti and Richard P. Rogers. Meiselas’s Nicaragua photographs were her first documentation of a conflict. (She later chronicled the civil war in El Salvador and the violence against Kurdish populations in Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War.) Her images bear witness to the conflict, and capture the collective feeling that change was possible after four decades of Somoza-family dictatorship. Through testimony from Sandinistas, civilians, and counterinsurgents alike, the film explores the complexity of the insurrection’s legacy, considering the hardship and violence that persisted in the 1980s instead of peace. This humbling, transcendent work also reckons with the weight of images and the role of the artist in the midst of a nation’s painful, vivid defining moments.
Pictures from a Revolution. 1991. USA/Nicaragua. Directed by Susan Meiselas, Alfred Guzzetti, Richard P. Rogers. In Spanish, English; English subtitles. 93 min.