Ask the Filmmaker

Viewer Question: In the 18 months that you spent on this project what was the emotional toll on you like? Were there any avenues of exploration on your part in this investigation that could have caused you danger? Lastly, what is your next project?

Portillo: It's hard to really know when one is in real danger, let me say the situation was very insecure at all times.

My next project is not defined yet.

Viewer Question: I got a sense from the film that various players were involved in these "perfect crimes;" the government, the police, the maquiladoras and the drug traffickers. What I would like to know is what is your hypothesis about the murders? After your extensive investigation of the crimes, have you reached any conclusions about how these murders are committed and who exactly is involved?

Portillo: It's hard to pin point without a real investigation, but it seems there is impunity and that allows for many people to be able to murder without consequences.

Viewer Question: Did you and your film crew encounter resistance with Juarez police? What has been the response of Suly Ponce and the Mexican government to your documentary? Do you think that the families feel some hope for justice (and peace) due to the publicity your documentary will generate?

Portillo: I don't know what Suly's reaction might have been, whatever it and the Government reaction is, I am sure they will play it down.

The families have a great deal of hope, because there are so many people demanding an investigation now.

Viewer Question: Did Maria find safety after sharing her story? If I'm not mistaken, she was the woman who exposed the story of the policia y El Diablo. I have not been able to shake her from my mind...

Portillo: Maria is alive and her public declarations have actually keep her in the public's eye which protects her.

Viewer Question: Thank you for a remarkable and deeply disturbing film. My question is: why has the convincing and horrific testimony of the woman who escaped an attack not been investigated further by the media as well as the police? Are there clues that validate her detailed description of the rapes and murders? I found no reference to her story in any of the articles listed on the POV website.

Portillo: Maria has made extensive declarations that are part of Human Rights groups dossiers.

Viewer Question: There is a great deal of religious imagery and music in the film and in the community. To what extent, Lourdes, did this film have a spiritual dimension and how did you experience this yourself?

Portillo: There is a great deal of Catholic imagery and feeling in Mexico, I used it to counteract the horror and evil of the crimes.

Viewer Question: I feel I am pulled in many different directions when it comes to being pro or against NAFTA... Is there an organization that watches the maquiladoras? Do they have to conform to any standards? If there are watchdog organizations that publicize sweatshop conditions in Nike plants in Indonesia, is there such a thing that watches the maquiladoras in Mexico? Where do I find such information?

Portillo: I suggest you go into the U.S. State Department website and investigate a little, I never found out.

Check out our resources for more information about the maquiladora industry and groups working to support the rights of maquila workers.