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SOUTHWEST OF SALEM: THE STORY OF THE SAN ANTONIO FOUR
Directed by Deborah Esquenazi
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
Sponsored By Here TV
SOUTHEASTERN US PREMIERE
USA, 2016, 91 mins
EXPECTED TO ATTEND: Director Deborah Esquenazi & The San Antonio Four; Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, & Anna Vasquez
AWARDS: Frameline (Outstanding Documentary Jury Award), Outfest (Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature), DocuWest Film Festival (Marvin Louis Booker Shoes of Justice Award), OUTeast Film Festival (Documentary Feature Audience Award)
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Tribeca Film Festival (World Premiere), Toronto InsideOut, Sheffield DocFest, AFI Docs, HotDocs
Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four excavates the nightmarish persecution of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez — four Latina lesbians wrongfully accused of Satanism and convicted of child molestation in San Antonio, Texas. The film begins its journey inside a Texas prison, after these women have spent nearly a decade behind bars. They were 19 and 20 years at the time that allegations surfaced.
Using the women’s home video footage from 21 years ago combined with recent verité footage and interviews, the film explores their personal narratives and their search for exculpatory evidence to help their losing criminal trials. 15 years into their journey, director Deborah S. Esquenazi captures an on-camera recantation by one of the initial outcry victims, now 25 years old although 7 at the time of the investigation. This brings the filmmaker into the role of investigator along with attorneys at the Innocence Project, who are just beginning their quest for truth in this case.
Deborah S. Esquenazi, Director
Deborah S. Esquenazi is an Austin-based documentary filmmaker + radio producer, curator, and journalist. Her work explores the intersections of mythology & justice, identity & power. She is a: Sundance Creative Producing Lab Fellow, 2015. Firelight Media Producers' Lab Fellow, 2015. IFP Spotlight on Docs, 2015. Artist on two Artplace America commissions, 2015. Sundance Documentary Film Fellow, 2014. She has received funding from Humanities Texas, Sundance Institute in association with JustFilms Ford Foundation and Open Society Foundation, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Astraea Global Arts Fund, Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media, Austin Film Society, and many others. Her debut feature, Southwest of Salem, received international attention for its initial investigation into the high-profile ‘San Antonio Four’ case and has been written about in Forbes Magazine, The NY Times, The Texas Observer, The Marshall Project, and many other publications. To learn more about her work, www.DeborahEsquenazi.com.
About Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (HSDFF) is the oldest non-fiction festival in North America and an Academy-qualifying festival in the category of Documentary Short Subject. In 1992, the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute (HSDFI) incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and remains one of the few film institutes in the United States dedicated solely to the documentary film genre. Each year the Institute presents the annual Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and has welcomed many of the greats of the documentary genre, including Albert and David Maysles, Robert Drew, D.A. Pennebaker, Les Blank, James Earl Jones, and Ken BurnsThe festival's screening committee views nearly 1,000 films submitted from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, and selects roughly 100 to be presented each year in October. HSDFF is an Oscar-qualifying festival in Documentary Short Subject for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, one of only 38 worldwide. For more information, please visit hsdfi.org or contact Executive Director, Courtney Pledger at email@example.com.
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