The New Juarez
2013, NR, 81 min. Directed by Charlie Minn.
REVIEWED By Louis Black, Fri., April 19, 2013
Passing itself off as a documentary, The New Juarez is far more a cinematic essay, a well-aimed and substantial attack on both the United States and Mexican governments, with particular ire shown toward the government of Juarez and its state police. After a six-year period of intense violence and astonishing death tolls, the situation has somewhat calmed down in the Mexican border town of Juarez. However, filmmaker Charlie Minn is convinced this reduction in crime is because the civic and police powers are cooperating with the criminal cartels rather than fighting their presence.
Minn is a relentless and pointed interviewer, but he also asserts himself into the story; he is out to make a point. This is not a film that searches for the truth; it exists to make clear an indictment of the powers that be. That it may also be largely accurate is quite possible. I know little of the specifics of the situation in Juarez over the last decade, and, after watching the film, I don’t feel truly enlightened – only more aware of the situation.
The politics of the film and its filmmaker are clear: Much of the chaos is blamed on the United States. In one scene, Minn overtly condemns President Obama for sitting around eating a ham sandwich while Mexicans are being slaughtered. Another sequence focuses on Romney and may even be construed as support for his presidential candidacy. Ultimately, The New Juarez is too passionately partisan regarding a very important and hard-to-fully-comprehend human tragedy.