In August 2014, Bernardo Ruiz and the Quiet Pictures team updated POV viewers on Reportero's impact.
Since broadcasting on POV in 2013, Reportero has screened in over 28 countries, including a 12-city tour in Mexico through the itinerant documentary festival, Ambulante. In the United States, it premiered at the Full Frame Film Festival and has screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, among many others. Reportero also screened in 39 U.S. cities and towns through our community screenings partnership with POV. In Europe, it premiered at IDFA and went on traveling tours through Italy and Poland.
The Reportero team is grateful that the film not only continues to screen internationally, but that it has also recently been nominated for a News and Documentary Emmy Award in the company of some truly fantastic films.
Adela Navarro, director of Semanario Zeta, was recently named among Forbes' "50 Most Powerful Women in Mexico." Sergio Haro traveled to Guatemala to discuss the regional issue of press freedom and present Reportero at the 5th International Film Festival with the theme 'Memory, Truth, Justice.'
We are currently in production on a new feature documentary with Participant Media, which delves into many of the same issues explored in Reportero, albeit through a very different lens.
In January 2013, Adela Navarro updated POV viewers on how Reportero has affected Zeta:
In January 2013, director Bernardo Ruiz gave POV an update on the journalists featured in the documentary Reportero.
What are Sergio and Adela up to now?
In April of this year, Zeta will celebrate its 33rd anniversary, with no signs of slowing down. The latest cover story (Issue #2022) is "Pelean Cárteles a Muerte" or "Cartels Fight to the Death." Adela Navarro, co-director of the paper was recently named as one of Foreign Policy's Top 100 Global Thinkers. Just this past year Sergio Haro published a compendium of his dispatches — recounting his 30 years of reporting on the California-Mexico line called "No se Olviden de Nosotros" ("Don't Forget About Us"). There is a nice interview with Sergio (in Spanish) about his book.
This March, Sergio, his wife and I travel to the Hague to screen Reportero as part of the Movies That Matter Festival. I'm looking forward to being back on the road with Sergio...
What is the current status of Zeta and the safety of its reporters?
I think it is safe to say that as long as the reporters, photographers and editors of Semanario Zeta continue to run stories about organized crime and political corruption, there will be threats.
We have heard that there is an official government "protection mechanism" in place for reporters who wish to call on it. Are people using the "protection mechanism" and how has it affected reporter safety in Mexico?
Under intense pressure by advocacy and human rights groups the government has taken some steps to protect journalists. The federalization of crimes against the press perhaps provides some symbolic importance, but in practice, the crippling problems of impunity and corruption have limited the effectiveness of these nominal legal protections. The fact is that many journalists are very distrustful of the inefficient protection offered to them by the government.
This past Friday, January 4, 2013, Enrique Peña Nieto, the new president of Mexico, (as of December 1, 2012) tweeted, "Hoy celebramos en México el Día del Periodista. Felicidades a quienes ejercen esta valiosa labor con objetividad y profesionalismo." "Today we celebrate 'Day of of the Journalist' in Mexico who excercise their important work with objectivity and professionalism." Beyond statemements like these it remains to be seen what types of specific measures he and his cabinet will take to meaningfully, and in a transparent way, prosecute crimes against journalists in Mexico.
One of the most vocal (and knowledgeable) critics of the Mexican government's ineffectiveness in prosecuting crimes against journalists has been the Committee to Protect Journalists' Mike O'Connor. Here are some of his thoughts on the federalization initiative.
Has the film shown in Mexico? How was it received?
Yes — the film had its world premiere in Mexico City through Ambulante Gira de Documentales — a festival started by the actors Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal and run by Elena Fortes. Through Ambulante we screened in 13 Mexican cities and in El Salvador. I attended at least three of these screenings, including in Tijuana and Mexico City. After a screening in San Diego, with many from Tijuana attending, a woman approached me and told me that said she had lived a few blocks away from the intersection where gunmen attempted to kill Zeta founder Blancorenals. She told me that she was doing the dishes when she heard the shots. She told me that she was so sick of the violence engulfing her city in the late 1990s that she did not call the police and soon returned to her chore. It was only until watching the film that she knew the details of the attack against Blancornelas. I imagine that many of us in the U.S. do the same thing — sometimes unaware of the stories unfolding in our own backyards.
What international efforts have been started to help protect the free press in Mexico and prevent self-censorship of Mexican reporters?
I have worked most closely with and have a tremendous amount of respect for the work of the Committee to Protect Journalists. In particular Carlos Lauria, who's recent op-ed mentions Reportero, has been a tireless advocate for the Mexican press. As I mentioned before, Mike O'Connor, working in Mexico, has been an important critic of the failure of Mexican authorities to effectively prosecute crimes against journalists in Mexico. But there are a number of international organizations such as Articulo 19, Freedom House, PEN and the International Press Institute, among others, that are working to keep the issue alive in the public sphere.
CPJ has started the Speak Justice: Voices Against Impunity campaign. And Articulo 19 commissioned a fascinating short film Silencio Forzado (Forced Silence), which features interviews with a number of prominent Mexican journalists like Lydia Cacho. The piece features interviews with Sergio Haro as well. There are links to both campaign and video on our blog.
What are you working on next?
Since wrapping production of Reportero I have been working on a new series called Los Graduados or The Graduates. It is a bilingual series about Latino students. For this project, which will air on PBS through Independent Lens in the fall of this year, we have filmed in six different districts across the country. I am working with an amazing and talented group of collaborators that includes producer Pamela Aguilar, co-producer Katia Maguire, editor Carla Gutierrez (editor of Reportero) and cinematographer Antonio Cisneros, among others.
I am also working on another documentary feature that I can't talk about at the moment. What I can say is that it involves the story of a group of people — similar to the team at Zeta — who have been fighting internationally for human rights from Latin America.
If anyone wants to learn more about my work or follow us on social media, they can visit Quiet Pictures, my company's site, at quietpictures.com.