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Presumed Guilty
Directed by Roberto Hernandez & Geoffrey Smith
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"As soon as you’re in here, you’re useless. You’re worthless, you’re nobody. You’re guilty. When we brought the camera to court, we balanced things out." —Roberto Hernández

In December 2005 Toño Zuniga was picked up off the street in Mexico City, Mexico, and sentenced to 20 years for murder based on the testimony of a single, shaky eyewitness. PRESUMED GUILTY tells the heart-wrenching story of a man who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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A friend of Toño’s contacted two young lawyers, Roberto Hernández and Layda Negrete, who gained prominence in Mexico when they helped bring about the release of another innocent man from prison. As Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) legal researchers, they tracked an alarming history of corruption in the Mexican justice system (93% of inmates never see an arrest warrant, and 93% of defendants never see a judge).

Looking into Toño’s case, Roberto and Layda managed to get a retrial–on camera—and enlisted the help of filmmaker Geoffrey Smith (THE ENGLISH SURGEON) to chronicle the saga. Shot over three years with unprecedented access to the Mexican courts and prisons, this dramatic story is a searing indictment of a justice system that presumes guilt.

"PRESUMED GUILTY is a terrific film – gripping, shocking and quite illuminating." —Charles D. Weisselberg, Shannon C. Turner Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law

"A rare – and chilling – glimpse of Mexico’s dysfunctional legal system." —David Luhnow, Wall Street Journal

"Showing to the world in vivid detail the deep flaws in the system, undermining the most basic ideals of justice, this film has the potential to blow the lid on the Mexican criminal justice systems." —Jack Glaser, Associate Professor at Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley

"Highly Recommended. ...the riveting story of the hard-won retrial of a Mexican prisoner, Toño Zuñiga, serves as an indictment of the entire Mexican criminal justice system" —Educational Media Reviews Online

"PRESUMED GUILTY demonstrates against the modern myth of justice and argues that human aspirations are always marred with contradictions. Unraveling the mysterious process that an average man is suppose to endure, the documentary brings to examination questions of justice, judiciary transparency and activism." —Anthropology Review Database

Honorable Mention, 2012 Western Psychological Association Film Festival
Emmy Award, 2011 Outstanding Investigative Journalism—Long Form
Humanitas Award, 2010 International Documentary Association, Los Angeles
Audience Award, 2010 Verzio Film Festival, Budapest
Audience Award, 2010 Sarajevo Film Festival
Feature Documentary Award, 2010 One World Media, London
Best Documentary Award, Best Audience Award, 2010 DocumentaMadrid
Best Feature Documentary Award, 2010 East End Film Festival, London
Audience Award for Best International Feature, 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival
Closing Night Film, 2010 Human Rights Watch Film Festival, New York
Golden Gate Best Bay Area Documentary, 2010 San Francisco International Film Festival
Best Documentary Award, 2010 Guadalajara International Film Festival, Mexico
Amnesty International Award, 2009 Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival
Best Documentary Award, 2009 Morelia International Film Festival, Mexico
Maysles Brothers Documentary Award, 2009 Belfast Film Festival
2009 Toronto International Film Festival
2009 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
  

88 minutes / color
Release: 2010
Copyright: 2009
Sale/Institutional: $348

This DVD is sold above with a license for institutional use and Public Performance rights. It is also available for home video use, click here.

Subject areas:
Criminal Justice, Ethics, Human Rights, Latin America, Latin American Studies, Law, Legal Studies, Mexico

Related Links:

Related Titles:
The Inheritors: At early age children begin to work in the Mexican countryside. This is a portrait of theirs lives and their daily struggle for survival.

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