Charlie Minn’s new film documents a continuing human rights disaster in Juarez

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EL PASO – As a teacher tries to calm down her students while a gun battle rages outside her classroom in a Mexican elementary school one little girl is smiling, attempting to ignore the gunfire.

Charlie Minn, best known as the director of documentaries like 8 Murders a Day and A Nightmare in Las Cruces said the terrifying video of that incident in Monterrey, Mexico, last year inspired him to produce a new film. “As a filmmaker you try to find inspiration and passion for what you do. So for me, it was that one particular incident.”

In his new film, Murder Capital of the World, Minn said he hopes to call attention of the fact that there have been thousands of murders in Ciudad Juarez, a city that has been plagued by warring drug cartels in recent years.  The violence has not only affected the “public image” of the city, but more importantly the daily lives of ordinary citizens. The film concentrates on the violent events of 2011.

A poster promotes Charlie Minn's latest documentary. (Courtesy of Charlie Minn.)

A poster promotes Charlie Minn's latest documentary. (Courtesy of Charlie Minn.)

Minn said his films are made to stick up for the “voiceless” and represent them, giving them “a voice.” Minn said he tries to represent the “human side” and uses film to “report on the tragedy whether you are on the right side or the wrong side… so my interviews have been with victims who are caught, the innocent ones. So I think this is more a human thing than anything.”

The video of the incident in Monterrey stuck with him, he said, “…the kids are the real innocent ones here because they have nothing to do with anything.”

“The biggest challenge [in making the film]is staying alive and that’s the first thing. Second challenge is making sure that you have all the elements that you need,” Minn said

In the trailer for Murder Capital of the World, there is a fact that he wants people to know – that in 2010 more people were killed in Juarez, than in the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., and he points out, “Yeah, I think it’s important to support it with facts. If you put it into that context it really makes people, go, “Oh, wow, I didn’t realize how bad this was.” So I think if you put numbers to it, it hits home. It’s factual.”

Minn said discrimination could be the reason so little notice is taken of the tragedy of Juarez. “Certainly that possibility should be looked at. I think after violence, discrimination is the second biggest problem in our world and the film sticks up for the innocent Mexican people. It represents the cries of the innocent Mexican people. And they’ve been brutally cheated during this shocking wave of violence.” Murder Capital of the World opens at Bassett Premiere Cinemas on February 17.

“No one’s heard of Juarez, I mean this is a human rights disaster,” Minn said.

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