Filmmaker Charlie Minn has a new documentary out, and like his previous films, it attempts to lend a voice to victims to whom justice has not been served.
“49 Angels” tells the true story of a fire that occurred in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico in June 2009, and took the lives of 49 children as a result.
The movie will be shown at Premiere Cinema at Bassett Place, beginning Friday, April 29.
“This story epitomizes what’s been going on in Mexico, especially since 2008,” Minn said. “These are babies and children that were trapped in a daycare center [fire]. According to all my research, it’s pretty clear that this, once again, falls under corruption. A certain individual was paid a lot of money to destroy paperwork inside a warehouse that was connected to the daycare center. The paperwork would reveal severe government corruption. Unfortunately, that fire could not be contained and spread to the adjacent daycare center.”
According to multiple reports, the building was not up to code on fire safety measures.
Minn added that while working on his film, he found that many people had never even heard of the incident.
“People think I’m obsessed with Mexico. I’m obsessed with getting justice for people,” Minn explained. “Documentaries are meant to inform, educate and raise awareness. This is not your popcorn, Hollywood fiction film. I come from a completely different angle. This is a film from the heart and soul. I try to give the victims a voice.”
To tell the story of the Hermosillo fire, Minn relied on interviews with the victims’ families, law enforcement, public officials, journalists and some children who survived the fire.
“I let them tell their story, and I try not to interfere, because they’re the real deal,” Minn said, adding that the story is very victim-driven. “You can imagine a lot of the government officials did not want to talk about this story.”
Having never been to Hermosillo presented somewhat of a challenge to Minn. Because it deals with the deaths of children, it was also a sensitive topic to feature. However, the opportunity to shine a light on the case and give a voice to the victims made it all worth it, he said.
Before pursuing a career as a filmmaker, Minn worked for the TV show “America’s Most Wanted.” The recent portrayal of criminals in the media inspires him to focus on the victims’ stories.
“I think the force of the media these days is to portray criminals way too much,” Minn said. “Instead of giving emphasis to the victims who’ve suffered, the hero seems to be the criminal. That is completely wrong. I’ve always said that we should never glorify these animals, yet we continue to do so. The media is feeding their egos.”
Minn said he’s currently in the midst of selecting the subject of his next film. Two of his four ideas include a film on the 1999 Aggie Bonfire, an incident at Texas A&M that killed 12 people and injured numerous others, and the 2011 assassination attempt of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords outside a supermarket in Arizona.
His previous documentaries include “Cruces Divided,” “A Nightmare in Las Cruces” and “Mexico’s Bravest Man,” about a former Mexico chief of police who resisted corruption and evaded several assassination attempts.
Premiere Cinema at Bassett Place
6101 Gateway Blvd W
Opens Friday, April 29 (minimum one-week run)
Daily show times: 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Opening weekend includes Q&A session with Director Charlie Minn.
More info at 49Angels.com