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Border Film Week at the University of San Diego's Trans-Border Institute ended Thursday with the movie "On The Edge," which is about the slayings of hundreds of young women in Ciudad Juárez. All four films featured during the week remain in the news in one form or another. "On The Edge" Director Steev Hise, who the institute flew in from Tucson, Ariz., said a woman prominent featured in his documentary recently sought asylum in the United States after a banner displaying a death threat was hung at the school where she teaches. Marisela Ortiz co-founded the group Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa (May Our Daughters Return Home) with the mother of one of her students who had been kidnapped and killed in February 2001. The mother of the girl, Norma Andrade, also has sought asylum. Ortiz and Andrade have been fighting to end impunity and to stop the violence in Ciudad Juárez. Hise said other activists have sought asylum and some have had their homes burned down.
Also Thursday, Mexico's attorney general, Arturo Chávez Chávez, resigned. When he was appointed a year and a half ago, activists were upset because of what they said was his inaction in the Juárez killings when he was Chihuahua state's attorney general. Marisela Morales has been nominated to succeed Chávez Chávez. Story, Los Angeles Times.
Wednesday's film, "La Mama: An American Nun’s Life in a Mexican Prison," was about Mother Antonia Brenner, (far left) the formerly Beverly Hills socialite who devoted her life to helping serve Mexicans in Tijuana's La Mesa prison, which is on a street now named for her. Mother Antonia, 84, came to the screening in a wheelchair and encouraged a nearly packed auditorium to love their fellow man before her voice gave out and she had to stop. Frontera newspaper on Wednesday had an article about Mother Antonia renewing her vows; Tijuana Archbishop Rafael Romo Muñoz said she has been in a delicate state of health. Mother Antonia, who is suffering from a life-threatening illness, has not been living in the prison as of late. The film's director, former Channel 8 reporter Jody Hammond, (at right in above photo) said it took her about five years to put together the documentary. "La Mama" is narrated by Susan Sarandon. Hammond said she hopes to have a Mexican actress narrate a Spanish version of the film. Mother Antonia also was the subject of a book, "The Prison Angel," by Washington Post journalists Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan. In the March issue of Mujer actual Baja California, Carolina Bustamente, who heads Tijuana's social services agency, said her favorite books are "The Prison Angel" and her prayer manual. She is the daughter of Mayor Carlos Bustamante. Also, Father Joe Carroll, who provides support services for the homeless in San Diego and was prominently featured in "La Mama," said he would be retiring April 12 on his 70th birthday.
A photographer heavily featured in Monday's film, "Tijuaneados Anónimos," denounced a Tijuana policeman in a full-page story in the Tijuana tabloid Frontera on Wednesday. Omar Martínez, who works for Frontera, said policeman José Arturo Medin stopped him in Playas de Tijuana on Tuesday for having expired plates and told him his car would have to be towed. Martínez said that when he pointed out that the policeman did not have the right to have the car towed, things went quickly downhill. Martínez said he called the city police spokesperson to discuss the matter, but that about half an hour later, the policeman then told Martínez he would be charged with speeding. Martínez said he had not been speeding. Martínez said that after he took a picture of the policeman's vehicle with a Blackberry portable device, he wound up being handcuffed and his photographic equipment taken by the policeman. Story, Frontera. Omar Martínez's Myspace page
A businessman heavily featured in Tuesday's film, "Tijuana Jews," is almost constantly in the news. José Galicot was the driving force behind the Tijuana Innovadora megaconference in October that brought in big names from all over the world to speak and to boost Tijuana's image. Ciudad Juárez now plans to hold a similar conference to boost its image. Galicot also is a board member and former president of the Fundación Internacional de la Comunidad, a Tijuana nonprofit that helps thousands of poor Tijuana residents and that handled much of the accounting work for Tijuana Innovadora. On Friday, he attended a session in Tijuana where six nonprofit groups that the foundation helps were given certification that they meet financial transparency standards. It was obvious that the 2004 semi-autobiographical "Tijuana Jews" documentary by Isaac Artenstein (right) was shot a while back, as Galicot was filmed when he looked much younger and had a beard.
Admission to the films was free.
Photo of Madre Antonia and Jody Hammond provided by USD