POV’s ‘Presumed Guilty’ is Subject of Landmark Freedom of Speech and Censorship Case in Mexico

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A still image from 'Presumed Guilty'The award-winning Presumed Guilty (POV 2010) has become the highest-grossing documentary in Mexico’s history, but last Wednesday, the film was pulled from theaters by a federal judge. Another court has overturned that ruling, but the legal battle continues.

The film tells the story of two young lawyers and their struggle to free Toño Zúñiga in Mexico City, a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for a murder he did not commit. With no background in film, Roberto Hernández and Layda Negrete set about recording the injustices they were witnessing, enlisting acclaimed director Geoffrey Smith (The English Surgeon, POV 2009) to tell this dramatic story. In the process of telling the story, the filmmakers expose a justice system that is corrupt and fatally compromised by a medieval concept of guilt and innocence.


A judge ordered the film be pulled from theaters after one of the featured witnesses in the film claimed that his privacy had been violated. Earlier this week an appeals court reversed the order in a landslide decision, as it conflicts with Mexico’s constitutionally granted freedom of information. These rulings are only temporary until the court can hold a full hearing on the violation of privacy accusations. Read articles about the legal battle from the The Washington Post, The Guardian and the BBC.

Watch the Trailer

Presumed Guilty will be streaming in its entirety through March 31, 2011 on the POV website. It is only available in the United States. Watch Presumed Guilty now »

Teachers and Community Organizers: Presumed Guilty is also available to borrow for FREE from the POV Lending Library! Use the film’s accompanying discussion guide or lesson plan to host a screening in your community or classroom.

Sean Holmquest
Sean Holmquest
Sean started as an intern with POV in 2009, before coming on-board as a staff member starting in 2010 until 2013. At POV, he managed online video content, produced companion features for the POV film websites, and implemented social media strategies. Prior to joining POV in 2010, he freelanced as a film editor and writer, in addition to working as an assistant for an independent music artist. He has written and directed several short, experimental films, and holds a bachelor's degree from Brown University in Literary Arts.