Judge bars ‘Guilty’ doc from theaters

Federal judge issues halt to controversial film in Mexico

A federal judge has ordered top-grossing Mexican documentary “Presumed Guilty” out of theaters after a key figure in the pic said he did not give permission to use his image.

The doc centers around a broken judicial system that wrongfully accused 26-year-old Antonio Zuniga of a killing that took place over a mile from where dozens of witnesses were watching him work. He was sentenced to 20 years hard time.

Victor Manuel Reyes Bravo, Zuniga’s cousin, was filmed in court during the proceedings. He said this was done without his permission and that the doc has done him great personal harm.

Co-director and case lawyer Roberto Hernandez called the suit’s argument absurd and stated that the courtroom, is a public space, where they had permission to film.

Pic bowed Feb. 18 in five cities on 120 copies, expanding to 21 cities and 300 prints the next week. To date, the film has pulled in more than 20 million pesos ($1.7 million), making it the top-grossing domestic docu ever.

Dominant exhibs Cinepolis and Cinemex are continuing to screen the doc, saying they will wait until they have written orders to pull it.

One of the film’s producers, Nicolas Vale, told national news outlet El Universal, that the suspension was not an act of censorship, but of desperation.

“The system is reacting to the undeniable argument that demonstrates the danger of the inefficiency of judicial proceedings,” Vale said.

Depending on what happens in the courts, the film could be pulled for as little as a day or possibly months should appeals fail and the underlying lawsuit be forced to trial.