Filmmaker speaks about upcoming documentary on border city violence


Juve Mata

Tijuana in December 2018, during the filming of “Stuck in Tijuana.”

by Nathan Godderis, Staff Writer

On Thursday, March 14, San Diego State hosted documentary filmmaker Charlie Minn to talk about his upcoming movie “Stuck in Tijuana” and raise awareness about the issues of violence at border cities. Minn has released more than 30 films regarding the border and has spoken at SDSU frequently.

The presentation was held in the “Homicide in America” Sociology 442 class, where Minn introduced the border topic by showing the class a video of a shooting in a bowling alley in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The film documented a shooting that killed four people, including two children, and, as Minn said, displays the horror of these events and bravery of the victims. It also represents a bigger problem, that these killers haven’t been identified, a problem that’s prevalent with crime in many border cities.

“My films represent innocent people who have been murdered,” Minn said. “I’m here to put a human face on them and give them a voice. I’ve always thought the news covered it in an incorrect way, always glorifying the killer, when we should really be talking about the guts and humanities of the victims because they are the heroes.”

Minn said he decided to start producing these movies due to what he called a lack of media coverage of the violence in Mexican border cities.

“It’s underreported, and you have to watch Spanish speaking television to really get the story, the local media here don’t do enough,” he said. “San Diego media should cover it more, but I think there’s fear in going into Tijuana and digging. That’s (what) my specialty is.”

This is Minn’s 21st time speaking at SDSU. Since the release of his film “The Long Island Railroad Massacre”, which gave his work a lot of recognition, he’s been invited by SDSU staff multiple times to discuss his work. He chooses this campus due to the friendliness of the people and the proximity to the areas he films.

“I’ve been talking at San Diego State for the last three years, and they’re very open to me coming in to inform, educate and raise awareness to students, my documentaries are meant to inform and educate so what better setting to do it in a school where that’s the whole goal,” he said. 

Going from interviewing the police chief of Tijuana to leaders of drug cartels, Minn puts himself in life or death situations to capture moments on film and share them with the world.

“I became a successful filmmaker because I found my guts, and that to me is everything because to me if you find your guts you can do anything,” Minn said. 

“Stuck in Tijuana” will open on March 22 at Theatre Box San Diego for a one-week run.

A previous version of this story incorrectly quoted Minn about how “Stuck in Tijuana” was filmed. The Daily Aztec regrets this error.