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September 30, 2014

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Documentary on Mexico drug violence hits Las Vegas on Friday

Screenings

“Murder Capital of the World” opens Friday at the Regal Village Square 18, 9400 West Sahara Ave. Show times are 12:35 p.m., 2:50 p.m., 5:10 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 9:40 p.m. Director Charlie Minn will be in attendance Friday, March 9, at both the 7:30 and 9:40 p.m. showings.

Documentary filmmaker Charlie Minn brought his film about the drug war in Juarez, Mexico, “8 Murders a Day,” to Las Vegas in late December.

The film covers the events in the border city of 1.3 million people in 2010, when Juarez had 3,111 murders, the most in the world. Much of the violence is attributed to the clash between authorities and the rival Sinaloa and Juarez cartels.

The film originally came out in February 2010, and by the time Minn made his way to Las Vegas with the documentary, he was already editing his second movie about Juarez, “Murder Capital of the World.” The film, which covers developments in Juarez and Mexico in general in 2011, opens Friday at the Regal Village Square 18.

Minn is passionate about the subject matter and has worked hard to get both independent documentaries into theaters and in front of the public.

Minn said he was drawn to Juarez and the drug war as a topic because he felt the story had not been sufficiently covered in the U.S. media.

“In 2010 there were more murders in Juarez than there were casualties in the attacks of 9/11, and since 2008 there have been more murders in Juarez than (U.S. military) casualties in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined,” Minn said. “Yet there is a huge gap in the public’s knowledge about 9/11 and the wars and what’s going on with the drug war in Mexico.”

Minn is in Las Vegas this week promoting the film, and is giving presentations about his experiences in Juarez to two UNLV classes. On Friday he will attend the evening’s last two screenings of “Murder Capital of the World,” and will be available to answer questions.

Minn is working out distribution himself city by city. So far “Murder Capital of the World” has shown in four cities in Texas and New Mexico, and along with Las Vegas, is booked for screenings in Arizona, Virginia and two more Texas cities.

“(Minn) is a one-man show, writer, director, distributor and marketer. I’ve played dozens of movies like this, small pictures from extremely small distributors or filmmakers, and most of the time they don’t get much of an audience,’ said Paul Serwitz, Regal Entertainment Group vice president for film and cinema art, who books movies at Regal Village Square.

Serwitz said Minn’s first film outdid his expectations, largely due to Minn’s tireless promotion. The film was booked for a minimum of one week, and ended up running for three weeks.

“Relative to the film that it is and the exposure that these little pictures get, I was very impressed with the results,” Serwitz said. “I give all the credit to Charlie.”

Serwitz said independent films without a big marketing push or distributor behind them often come to the theater and make $400 at the box office. “8 Murders a Day” made $4,000 in its first week in Las Vegas and approximately $7,000 total, Serwitz said.

In January, the Mexican government reported that 47,515 people had been killed in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderón began a military assault on cartels in 2007. That year Juarez had 316 murders.

Mexico will elect a new president in 2012, and Minn covers the implications of the election in terms of the drug war. The film also dives into a marijuana smuggling operation in which cartels hid pot in the cars of unsuspecting border crossers, and an hour-long shootout between rival gangs at Juarez’s municipal jail that resulted in 17 deaths.

“I’ve never seen a city with more news coming out of it on a daily basis than Juarez,” Minn said. “That’s why I keep coming back to it, and keep reporting on it.”

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