Have you heard of Presumed Guilty and Leaving Fear Behind?

11 Dec

I’ve forgotten when was the last time I watched a movie in the theater. I seriously don’t remember when was it. And certainly I am not in the mood to return to the cinema. I am a tad disappointed with it. Or better said, with Hollywood—I am disappointed with it. Its huge movies, its huge special effects, its epic sceneries… Yup, believe it or not, I no longer like them that much. I find now my little pleasures with indie movies, foreign movies, who know that they mustn’t impress to win movie—actually, you could say they’re rather aware they won’t even win that much—, because they’re doing it for the art. I am not saying I don’t like all Hollywood movies, I am just saying that they no longer seem movies for me, but rather they’re merchandise, as in The Hunger Games franchise, which, according to this, got a message and stuff, but which seems to me as a marketing tool and a movie with rather shallow ends (and I know I am getting in trouble for commenting that I don’t think The Hunger Games are cool, but I would like to explain this in the future if it is no problem, because the topic in question right now it’s a completely different one; I just beg you: don’t kill me for the moment, please?).

…Is that a no?

          But I won’t be unfair and a generalizing person: it’s the same gist with the cinema around the world, which also seek to get money over making art. Mexico’s one of them, with films such as Nosotros los Nobles, Salvando al Soldado Pérez, the remake of Hasta el Viento Tiene Miedo…and other comercial jewels that don’t exactly offer lots of artistic or humanistic intentions. It’s proper of this century that there’s a loss of aesthetic tastes and the indoctrination of entertaining pleasures which don’t seek precisely to bring some benefit for the spirit or to bring a critical analysis of society.

          However, everytime there’s art house films or, overall, a very worthwhile film, be it from Hollywood or Mexican or Iranian or French or British or Brazilian, etcetera, I try to watch it to support the industry. A tiny action to do, of course, but I believe this is better than nothing, huh? Even better if said films truly want to help people—films that want to give to the public not just entertainment or life splendor caught with a reel—. Wouldn’t be the same thing, of course, but that’s why there are documentaries that can home these activism intentions. I tend to be open to a well-intentioned documentary with a critical analysis for sake of everybody.

          However, that’s just me. It will always be different with the targets of the criticism.


          I would like to talk today about two curious cases, both from documentaries. First, we have Presunto Culpable (Spanish for Presumed Guilty), whose director, Roberto Hernández, has been already a target of numerous death threats and has received numerous lawsuits against him for showing the faces of the people in his film and which are, according to him, actual retaliations in disguise for showing the awful justice system in Mexico. Presunto Culpable deals with a, precisely, presumed guilty inmate who, with the progression of the film, reveals to be innocent of the charges against him with the exposition of proof of his innocence and which exhibits the corruption and negligence of this system, with names and faces shown along the way, of course.

          The second case in question is Leaving Fear Behind, by Dhondup Wangchen. Just as the first example, this documentary shows the abuses done by the Chinese government to the Tibetans through several interviews done to them, in where they express their opinion towards the Beijing Olympic Games (which were being held in that year), towards several politic topics, towards the Tibetan identity and towards the Dalai Lama. Wangchen, alongside his companion, were arrested shortly after the wrap up of the filming of this 25 minute documentary, yet the interviews were taken out from the country and arrived safely in the foreign countries. Wangchen’s wife has asked for help as now his husband is not receiving medical attention in the terrible conditions he’s kept in prison.

          Both cases end in a similar note: both directors became enemies of the government in charge. Hernández’s case ended in a relatively good tone, in where he didn’t get any more charges against him because… Well, the movie was exhibited already years ago. How can you make the people unsee it? Quite impossible, if you ask me.

What has been seen cannot be unseen, sadly. Were that to be the case, I would immediately cleanse my mind from all the TV junk I absorbed in my puberty. All that awkward anime stuff I watched would be the first thing to go away, for example!

What has been seen cannot be unseen, sadly. Were that to be the case, I would immediately cleanse my mind from all the TV junk I absorbed in my puberty. All that awkward anime stuff I watched would be the first thing to go away, for example!

They didn’t bother him any longer… Ok, maybe later when he recorded some interesting videos in his cellphone, but that’s so far the last I’ve heard of him.

Wangchen, on the other hand, is still behind bars. Who would have said that his 25 minute documentary, which only recorded frustrated people, would be a bitter soup for the Chinese authorities. I, honestly, didn’t know of his case until two days ago, when they sent me a plea to sign to release him, which I will post in the end. And, after investigating his situation and watching his film, his case reminded me of that of Hernández’s, as he became rather famous again last months in a reopening of his film case (it was shown in 2011, and although it received lawsuits in that time, they opened it again in these months).

          As for me, I will just give my comment and point out how censorship is becoming one of the favourite toys of the leaders around the globe today. Censorship is becoming one of the landmark concepts of these 2000s, yet it is at the same time a sign that the people always had the power in all this time and that a change is nigh if the people get together and decide for it. Censorship’s a crack on the wall that shows the monster, but whose tentacles can grasp you if you’re not careful.

See the devilish imp shape? It cracks me up everytime I think about it! Hah! Get it…? No…? Oh, ok…

          Both of these censorship cases are rather complex and I would rather not give an opinion this easily without regretting it later. However, I would like to mention the right of freedom of expression, especially if it is for sake of a group. Hernández wanted to show the failures of our system to let there be no longer an excuse of negligence and to claim for a better system. Wangchen, as he himself mentions it in his film, wants to portray the frustration of his people and to reveal to the world the injustices in the Tibet. Both directors don’t seek to harm, but to help. And that’s, in my opinion, what matters, what must be appreciated, what must be taken into consideration.

          It just cringes me to think that there are people who don’t think this way and who would not like a cleaner world in their surroundings, and this is only achieved by oppression and censorship. Curious thing: they would live better if they could just look through the simplicity eye and if they could really meet the people they’re in charge of. If they could just know them, they would fall in love with them and would even do all means necessary to protect them. And they would see that these films help them, even their children.

If you want to sign up to demand the freedom of Wangchen, please click here. It will take you right away to the Amnesty International’s petition page.

          Thanks a bunch for reading! Also, if you want to watch both films, here ya go!

*All the images redirect to their original site; the ones not doing it are screenshots taken by me.



3 Responses to “Have you heard of Presumed Guilty and Leaving Fear Behind?”

  1. PF December 11, 2013 at 4:42 am #

    Perhaps you should see De panzazo (if you haven’t already seen it).
    Even though is made by a journalist who isn’t very objetive in his news show (Televisa), in my opinion he did a good job in this documentary.

    • krikli01 December 11, 2013 at 5:20 am #

      Oh, as a matter of fact, I did watch that documentary! 😀 But I read in some few pages that it was criticized by some teachers because they were put as the guilty ones of the lacking educational system in Mexico in the documentary, and that the journalist Loret de Mora did not include a vital fact of education: many children are educated via TV, so it’s also a responsibility of the TV Networks, and he, they said, deliberately omitted that.
      But yeah, I did watch it! :3 (Por cierto, hablas español, verdad?).


  1. Has oído de Presunto Culpable o de Leaving Fear Behind? | Los Segundos Milenarios - December 11, 2013


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