Filmmaker to discuss Juarez drug war documentary at AWC
In October 2010, the Mexican city of Juarez averaged over 10 murders per day. By August 2012, the city's murder rate was down to one per day. What happened?
Charlie Minn, a Manhattan documentary filmmaker who now resides in El Paso, Texas, tries to explain this change in the final film of his trilogy on the drug war in Mexico.
The film, “The New Juarez,” will open at Harkins Theatre in Yuma, 1321 S. Yuma Palms Parkway, on Friday and will run at least a week.
Minn will also discuss his filming experiences during two free sessions at Arizona Western College on Wednesday. The general public and all AWC students, faculty and staff are invited to attend the sessions.
The first session will be from 9:30-10:30 a.m., and the second runs from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. Both sessions will be held in the 3C Building, Schoening Conference Center South Wing at AWC's main campus, 2020 S. Avenue 8E.
The session will include a sneak-preview of “The New Juarez,” Minn's follow-up to the documentary “8 Murders a Day,” which he also presented at AWC last year.
The event is intended to show AWC and the Yuma community the serious issues border towns in Mexico face due to the drug cartels and wars within their communities, according to an AWC announcement.
The film takes an “emotional, eye-opening look” at the violence that existed in the border town of Juarez and how the city has implemented changes that have reduced its murder rate from eight murders per day in 2010 to one per day by August 2012.
The film follows director Minn as he interviews Juarez Mayor Hector Murguia, Police Chief Julian Leyzaola, citizens of Juarez and other experts and academics who express their opinions about the latest developments in the city. A police ride-along adds to the tension of the film.
Minn noted that more than 100,000 Mexicans have died since former President Calderon declared war on the drug cartels in 2006. Although the murder rate has dropped significantly, there were still more than 15,000 drug cartel related murders in 2012, only slightly less than the 16,000 similar murders in 2011.
“I don't see an end to this catastrophe anytime soon,” Minn said.
Why should Americans care? “Its important to keep this tragedy in the minds of people to start a serious dialogue to save lives. Too many Mexican people are being slaughtered on a daily basis; this has to stop. I read where Syria lost over 60,000 people. Try doubling that for Mexico, and it's hardly brought up despite Americans and their policies leading directly to the carnage in Mexico,” Minn said.
The filmmaker blames the U.S. for much of the drug violence. “Mexicans die, Americans get high, and that's no lie,” he said.
“People in Yuma County should feel fortunate that the violence that has hit the Juarez-El Paso border area hasn't affected your area,” Minn said.
“Yuma County has been spared, but people are still victimized. When people are killed in Mexico, it effects the people in the U.S.,” he added, pointing out the extensive family and business ties between the two countries.
Minn said he has always been fascinated by Mexico and learned about the violence while filming another documentary in the area.
His first film, “A Nightmare in Las Cruces,” which explores an unsolved bowling alley massacre in New Mexico, was sold to Lions Gate Entertainment last year. He then made “8 Murders a Day” which explores the human-rights disaster in Juarez, Mexico. His last film was in Scottsdale, called “Where is Robert Fisher?”, about a man charged with murdering his family.
Partial proceeds from box office receipts are donated to social organizations that help victims, Minn said.
For more information on the AWC presentations, contact Hayley Bradford, AWC educational events specialist, at hayley.Bradford@azwestern.edu or (928) 317-7670.