Q&A with '8 Murders a Day' producer Charlie Minn

The murder capital of the world is only a short drive from Phoenix. It’s a town where children go to school, where mothers tote bags of groceries home, where fathers go to work and come home tired — just like any other town. But in between the mundane hours in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, are streaks of violence so lurid you wouldn’t believe them if they were read to you from a book: beheadings, massacres, murders in daylight on public streets. But maybe, producer Charlie Minn hopes, you might believe them in his documentary, “8 Murders A Day.”

SPM sat down with Minn as he swept across the state to promote the film and raise awareness.

SPM: What is the film “8 Murders A Day” about?

Minn: It scrutinizes the ongoing violence in Juarez. Last year was a record-breaking year; there were 3,111 murders in the city. What’s so crazy about that is that the city only has 1.2 million people. No one ever brings that up. You figure out of every 100,000 people there are over 200 murders. That’s pretty remarkable when you consider a city like New York, where I think it’s six murders per 100,000 people.

This film closely examines the violence. It’s very current and it’s not just femicides. Most of the films made about Juarez have been femicides. Yes, that’s brutal and it’s horrible, and those women were cheated. But there should be a movie about overall violence: men, women, babies. This is a war on people, not drugs.

SPM: How did you become involved in this project?

Minn: I am fascinated by true crime. I wrote a little bit for America’s Most Wanted and I just kept reading about all these bodies piling up and I just started studying it. I’ve been researching Juarez online for a good year now. I’ve seen just about every YouTube video on Juarez. El Paso had five murders last year, then you cross the river and it’s like a third-world country where bullets are just flying everywhere. That contrast intrigued me.

SPM: How long were you filming in Juarez?

Minn: The shoot was like five to seven days because we did some interviews in El Paso and Las Cruces (N.M.). The crew consisted of only three people, but sometimes I had to find a cameraman the day of filming because people chickened out. Anyone who goes in there right now is putting their lives on the line.

SPM: Can you describe the atmosphere in Juarez today?

Minn: Sometimes you go in there during the day and you would never guess that it’s the murder capital of the world. The majority of the people in Juarez are beautiful people; it’s just a few that actually ruin it for everybody.

SPM: Did you ever see any violence up front or fear for your life at any point?

Minn: Not in front of me. In terms of cartel members, I can’t say that I’ve met any, but there was a chance that they walked past me, but you just don’t know. I’m a filmmaker though, you can’t be a pussy.

There’s a lot of people on Fox News and CNN who talk about Juarez and I can’t stand it. They’ve never even gone in there, they just talk about it. If you’re going to talk about something, get in there.

SPM: What do you hope people take away from the film?

Minn: This is a very emotional and touching subject. You’re talking about death and destruction. I want people to walk away angered, not just saddened. Something has to be done to quell the violence, otherwise we just stand around and watch a city die before our eyes.

Minn’s film debuts Friday, Feb. 25 at Harkins Valley Art in Tempe.

Reach the reporter at jose.sandoval@asu.edu

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