Film phase: Completed
Southwest of Salem excavates the nightmarish persecution of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez — four Latina lesbians wrongfully convicted of allegedly gang raping two little girls. This bizarre case is the first to be adjudicated under momentous new legislation: for the first time in U.S. history, wrongfully convicted innocents can challenge convictions based on debunked scientific evidence. The film also unravels the sinister interplay of mythology, homophobia, and prosecutorial fervor which led to this modern day witch hunt.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Deborah S. Esquenazi is a documentary film and radio producer, instructor, and journalist based in Austin. Her ongoing work on Southwest of Salem has already received international attention for its investigation, including mentions in Forbes Magazine, The New York Times, and BBC Radio. Her short documentary, The Kellers, about another high-profile Texas case during the ‘Satanic panic,’ is slated to air on PBS in late 2014.
Southwest of Salem is still in production, but has already made an impact, including procuring an on-camera recantation that helped lead to the release of the “San Antonio Four” as they await exoneration proceedings. The filmmakers have held 18 work-in-progress screenings, and the film has ben paired with a number of LGBTQ non-profits that are ready to help launch distribution.