Mexican Documentary Presumed Guilty One Screening Only

by Sydney Levine
April 11, 2011 6:00 AM
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Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF)'s free monthly screening this April 13 at UCLA's James Bridges Theater at 7:30 pm. One time only: Presumed Guilty (Presunto Culpable), the award winning documentary about Mexico’s legal system was briefly banned in Mexico until its producers showed it on You Tube and it showed recently at Guadalajara Film Festival. International sales are by Films Transit. One day after a Mexican judge ordered theaters to halt screening a hit documentary about Mexico’s system of justice, an appeals court has reversed the order, saying that it violated constitutional guarantees of freedom of information. The documentary examines Mexico’s trial system that presumes defendants to be guilty until proved innocent. It focuses on the retrial of 26-year-old Antonio Zúñiga, a street vendor who was wrongly convicted of a murder in 2005 and sentenced to 20 years in prison. His lawyers had filmed the proceedings with permission of the trial judge, but a key witness who testified against Zúñiga complained that his right to privacy was violated when the filmmakers featured him in their film. Distributor Cinépolis opened the film on Feb. 18, and it quickly became the country’s biggest box-office hit for a documentary, earning $3.5 million. Last weekend, it was still No. 2 at the Mexican box office, behind Rango. The censorship of the film proved to be a boon for pirates. One street vendor told Britain’s Guardian newspaper, “I can’t remember anything like this. … Maybe Spider-Man 3 did as well, but I’m not even sure about that.”

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